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Growth Through Distruption

by Sean Denham

Philadelphia has a long history of innovation. From cheesesteaks and the Constitution, to the world’s first computer developed at the University of Pennsylvania to the establishment of CHOP as the first hospital dedicated exclusively to children, Philadelphia has long been at the fore- front of disrupting the status quo to move society forward. Continuing in this proud tradition, the 2016 IMPACT Capital Conference is focusing on Growth through Disruption, challenging entrepreneurs to develop disruptive technologies, innovative business ideas, and impactful health care developments that will solidify Philadelphia as a technology and life sciences hub for the future.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, the most critical aspect of starting a new business is securing funding. This is an incredibly time-consuming and arduous process. The IMPACT Conference provides a forum for entrepreneurial companies and ground- breaking startups to interact with a variety of pedigreed capital sources in a short period. The conference has been responsible for billions of dollars in venture funding and entrepreneurship success in its his- tory. Last year’s “Lion’s Den” session featured company presentations to angel investors with dedicated investments of over half a million dollars in startup funding awarded. As the featured companies in the past will attest, this is an invaluable opportunity to meet with high-quality investors and engage in meaningful conversations about the value of their business. These investors also provide invaluable support through business acumen, advice, expertise and connections. This year’s conference will also feature an exciting opportunity for student entrepreneurs to showcase their business ideas in a unique expo center. By engaging students from the top local universities, IMPACT is inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and giving them a chance to develop their pitch skills, and give them unprecedented access to investors that can help them transform their ideas into a growing business. 2016 is proving to be a dynamic and disruptive year, especially for the business world. The implications of the upcoming presidential election will have significant impacts on small businesses around the country. The conference will focus on the implications of this election through keynote speaker Michael Smerconish, host of The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM Channel 124 and host of CNN’s Smerconish. We are also excited to welcome Michele Peluso, venture partner at Technology Crossover Ventures, member of the board of directors for Nike and former CEO of Gilt.com and Travelocity. Peluso will be discussing how embracing disruptions helps businesses grow and thrive. The conference will also feature presentations from expert panelists on a number of disruptive technologies that are changing the face of industry including drones, driverless cars and the internet of things. In addition to these general sessions, the conference will have strategic sub segments focusing on topics important to early stage companies, health care companies and technology companies.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, the Philadelphia metro had one of the highest positive shifts in entrepreneurship ranking as benchmarked against other nationwide metros. The past 18 months have shown tremendous growth in the entrepreneurial community. In 2015, investments in the region increased by 25 percent over 2014, and the first two quarters of 2016 are off to a strong start with over $300 million invested.

Each aspect of the conference is carefully curated to help encourage and inspire entrepreneurs and investors to focus on the future. The panel and keynote sessions provide practical insight into hot topics, as well as access to service providers that can help propel companies to new levels of growth. Ample breakout time is offered for one-on-one networking with investors, providers and peers. The featured company presentations allow for rapid fire pitches to maximize efficiencies with time invested and give access to immediate feedback and, most notably, capital.

I am excited to host this year’s conference. Bringing together the top entrepreneurial minds in Philadelphia, with the region’s best investors, the youthful energy of student entrepreneurs, and the most strategic partners is a guaranteed success. Philadelphia is primed to disrupt the status quo for business starting with the IMPACT conference.

Sean Denham serves as IMPACT chair and is a managing partner at Grant Thornton.

Published (and copyrighted) in Philly Biz, Volume 1, Issue 10 (September, 2016).
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