Philadelphia's Growth Discussed Technically At OpenAccessPHL Meeting

Nolan Burger, for GPA -- A handful of Philadelphia’s leading technology thought leaders and digital-minded residents gather to discuss the local tech sector during OpenAccessPHL’s standing meetings, held on the first Friday of every month. In July, about 40 attendees met at Benjamin's Desk to discuss freelancing in the tech industry, the importance of mentorship and ways of improving the region’s tech reputation.

According to their website, OpenAccessPHL is a network of Philadelphians “working at the intersection of technology, innovation, and civic participation.” During their meetings, which are free and open to the public, they host speakers that appeal to the diverse interests of their entrepreneurial demographic.

As OpenAccessPHL co-founder Jeff Friedman explains, “our motivation is bringing together people from different sectors.”

Friedman previously worked for the City of Philadelphia’s Division of Technology, when he realized that he wanted to work more with open data. OpenAccessPHL grew organically from meetings among Friedman and a group of friends and peers. They would discuss issues relevant to technology and the civic sphere, knowing that there existed a thriving network of entrepreneurs, tech professionals and innovators in Philadelphia.

Zack Seward, the new editor-in-chief of Philly, was the first speaker at July’s meeting. He spoke about his personal and professional goals for promoting and expanding the growth of the local technology sector. is an independent technology news network that has grown to include sister websites in Baltimore, Brooklyn and, most recently, Delaware.

“I’m passionate about making stuff better and making people talk,” he said.

When asked about what makes Philadelphia’s tech scene unique, he cited companies that can do a lot with a little and the growth of local social entrepreneurship as its most remarkable traits.

Danielle Cohn, VP of Marketing and Communications for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), was another guest speaker at the event.

Cohn explained the immense need for Philadelphia to grow its global branding.

“People don’t love us and they don’t hate us,” she said. “They don’t know us.”

In recent years, PHLCVB has been pushing the “PHL” label as an open source logo to encourage a consistent brand for the city. According to Cohn, the initiative has been highly successful, with about 80 organizations now utilizing the mark as part of their marketing efforts.

Jen A. Miller, a freelance writer, also spoke to the group about embracing failure as a professional woman.

To close the meeting, Dean E. Miller, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies, described his vision for fixing the local education system and introducing a citywide mentorship program.

Following the speakers, attendees lingered to chat and network over drinks. According to Friedman, “discovery and matchmaking” is what OpenAccessPHL is all about.

Photo courtesy of Nolan Burger.