Guest Commentator: Chris Cera,  CEO, Arcweb Technologies @Arcweb

What opportunities does the Greater Philadelphia business community provide for businesses looking to grow and innovate their company?

Arcweb Technologies has been the trusted partner of over 80 companies to help them bring a new product to market faster than their competition.  During this process, we go through the various local resources for executives to learn, grow, and innovate with their teams. I’ve categorized some of these broadly into 3 categories with a focus on local Philadelphia resources: 1) Get Out Of The Building, 2) Consider a pivot, 3) Deals.

1. Get Out Of The Building

Steve Blank talks about the importance of “Getting Out Of The Building” in order to learn from prospects, customers, and competitors.  Here are some ways to get you and your team out into the community:

  • Coworking Spaces.  It will blow your mind to see a coworking space full of Fortune 500 executives, freelancers, startups, and traveling professionals.  Arcweb was started at Independents Hall, and a number of our customers also work out of Benjamin’s Desk.  Buy your teams a membership and encourage them to work there multiple days per week.  (You should try it, too.)
  • Corporate Innovation Centers. Innovation centers are designed to be an access point into the community.  Ask for a tour or wait for the next event at either the Penn Center for Innovation or Vanguard Innovation Center.
  • Events. Common themes or initiatives are one of the best ways to bring people together.  My favorite events to recommend to innovators are Philly Startup Leaders and Philly New Tech Meetup.  If you find a group that fits your niche, offer to host their next event.  Can’t find one that fits your niche just right? Start one of your own.  (You might get some easy publicity, too.)

2. Consider a Pivot

The biggest opportunity for growth might be right in front of your face, but you’ve been ignoring it because it’s “not what you do.”  I once felt the same way about healthcare – now we’re leaders in the digital health and patient experience categories. Could you retrofit your expertise into healthcare and maybe 10x your business?  What about life sciences or education? (And make sure to Get Out of The Building by visiting companies like yours in other markets.)

3. Deals

If you prefer to transact your way to growth and prosperity, then there are some options worth considering:

  • Outsourcing.  One of the fastest ways to bring innovations into your company is to hire a team of known innovators to start working with your team.  The perspective from an outside team is invaluable for helping your team rethink the business.
  • Raise Capital.  The funding conversation is usually overtaken by startups looking to raise venture capital (VC), but private equity (PE) for growth capital is accessible here too.  We have been maintaining a list of all Philadelphia Venture Capital firms and a mailing list to subscribe to updates.
  • Deploy Capital.  If you’re lucky enough to have capital earmarked for revenue diversification, consider partnering with DreamIt Ventures to manage the innovation already happening in your company.  Another option is Touchdown VC, who can manage your entire venture capital portfolio program.

In Closing

Pivots, deals, and getting out of your building are just the beginning. Use your Chamber membership. Join an advisory board. Get involved with local colleges. Start a podcast. The important thing is to get out there and do it.

I hope this has helped you think about ways to innovate and grow your business, and you’re welcome to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments.


Chris Cera is a member of the Chamber’s Small Business Board and a past recipient of the Small Business Person of the Year Excellence Award. Join the ranks of Chris, along with other top business leaders in our region, by nominating yourself or your business for an Excellence Award. Nominations are open until April 6. To nominate, visit ChamberPHL.com/EA