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How Close School is Reshaping Phillys Technology Entrepreneurship Landscape

April 5, 2023

The Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship at Drexel University hosted the Tech Entrepreneurship Leadership Council Kick Off Event at Venture Café on Thursday, February 16, 2023. The event brought together over 140 local tech entrepreneurs and leaders to connect, gain insights, and discuss the future of an inclusive technology entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The idea for the event stemmed from former University City Science Center CEO and serial entrepreneur, Mr. Steve Zarrilli. He recognized an opportunity around the need to develop entrepreneurial leaders with expertise in leadership, markets, and business, while also developing an intrinsic commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social impact within the Philadelphia region.


The event began with networking and hors d'oeuvres from local entrepreneurs, 12th St. Catering and Dr. Brownies, followed by opening remarks from John Fry, President of Drexel University, and Steve Zarilli, Past President and Chief Executive Officer of the University City Science Center.

Senior Director of the University City Science Center, Jen Rajchel, expressed, "We were delighted to partner with Drexel to host an engaging panel on the importance of diversity in tech leadership at Venture Cafe Philadelphia to launch their Tech Entrepreneurship Leadership Council. Equity in leadership is critical for the future of the Philadelphia region and the Science Center's mission in fueling inclusive economic growth. We look forward to future collaborations and continuing momentum."

The panel discussion was moderated by Dean Donna DeCarolis, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, and featured industry experts including Michael Dipiano, General Partner of New Spring; Iain Fitzpatrick, Chief Strategy Officer of Archetype; Mical Jeanlys-White, Founder and CEO of WealthMore; Scott Nissenbaum, President and CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Jen Rajchel, Senior Director of Experience and Digital Transformation at the Science Center; and Kahlil Wyche, Serialpreneur and Educator.

The Close School of Entrepreneurship will be the home of this council and the "convener" of startup education resources, leadership training, and networks to provide a clearer leadership pathway for underrepresented tech entrepreneurs. The event served as a kickoff for this initiative, which will develop the next generation of technology entrepreneurs in Philadelphia, particularly among underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Dean Donna De Carlois of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship said, "The purpose of the Technology Entrepreneurship Leadership Council is to empower the next generation of technology leaders and create a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem. We will provide support and resources for underrepresented entrepreneurs who often lack access to the necessary education and networks to succeed – thus fulfilling a gap in the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

The Tech Entrepreneur Leadership Council Kick Off Event was successful in its mission to bring together local tech entrepreneurs and provide a platform for insightful conversations about the future of the industry. The event was well-received, and attendees left feeling inspired and motivated to be part of the next generation of technology leaders. The momentum from the night will continue as the Close School of Entrepreneurship in partnership with Steve Zarrilli begin to fully develop and implement the program and initiative.

View the event HERE.