Philadelphia’s business incubator and laboratory Pennovation Center was jammed with hip techsters grooving to DJ Reed Streets, chowing down on Comcast-donated ice cream and downing freebie cocktails from Red Bull during the closing night party to the annual Philly Tech Week, attended by denizens of the city’s technology community, event sponsors, partners and organizers.
The party capped a week-long “celebration of technology and innovation” that featured digital marketing and developers conferences, a Q&A with PA Governor Tom Wolf, block party, entrepreneur expo, and #Failfest, a day-long conference on learning from business failures. Front and center at the party were long lines of swag tables hosted by a variety of Philly-area employers like Drexel and University of Pennsylvania – located just past fresh-cut freebie flowers. Each table was mobbed by attendees pocketing everything from branded Frisbees and mints to smart wallets and company stickers for Macs.
“We’re known for cool swag – we were the first to give away selfie sticks,” said Michelle Ferguson, who handed out a variety of freebies advertising the Saul Ewing law firm. “We like to give something different – hence, the light-up yo-yos. But the light-up fans are the most popular. We brought 200 and they’re going fast.”
Sweltering in the heat of thousands of moving, eating, browsing bodies, Valentina Feldman quickly snatched up one of Ewing’s fans. “I have no need to hire a lawyer, but I like the way it’s programmed – it piqued my interest,” she said of the messaging that appears like magic in the whirr of the fan blades. “So I’ll go to their website. Plus, I’m hot.”
Jason Marziani, an attendee from software company Flyclops Games who carried a blue Philly Tech Week T-shirt, browsed the Meet Me Group table on the look-out for promotional items that will stand the toughest test of all: his 4- and 2-year-old kids. He ended up with a stress ball and sunglasses, saying, “I hope these will appeal to them. I hope they’re sturdy enough.”
At his table, Chris Carey was carefully re-arranging his giveaway cellphone wallets in the shape of his investment company’s initials: SEI. “People like them – they use them,” he said. “At an event like this, people don’t want paper – they want something they can put people’s business cards in.”
Upstairs, tech companies like Gossamer Games, Semag Studio and Skygear Solutions offered game and VR demos (along with hand-out brochures) to the crowd of stylishly-dressed members of the city’s growing tech industry.
As the organizers (#PTW2017) tout on their website, “There’s something for everyone!”