The City of Philadelphia’s StartUp PHL angel fund has invested $100,000 in Penn faculty startup Gencore Systems.
It’s the first time that the fund, run by First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, has backed a startup built on research done at a local university. It’s also notable because Gencore Systems is the first startup to come out of Penn’s Computer Science Department, at least in recent memory.
The $100,000 investment is convertible debt, said First Round’s Ben Cmejla. It’s part of a larger fundraising round that cofounder Boon Thau Loo hopes to close in the next few months. (The company previously raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding.)
Loo, an associate professor in Penn’s CS department, launched Gencore in the summer of 2013 after conducting nearly six years of federally-funded research with his students to develop the technology. Loo was on sabbatical leave for all of 2014 to get the company off the ground.
The company’s first product helps businesses see the effect of new code on their cloud servers, like Amazon Web Services or Rackspace. It is specifically targeting companies who do what’s known as “continuous deployment,” where dev teams launch new code multiple times a day straight to users and need immediate feedback on those deployments. A handful of companies are piloting the product, Loo said.
The investment is a big win for the new Penn Center for Innovation, the school’s rebranded and streamlined tech transfer office that aims to help more faculty launch startups.
“This is a great example of what we’re trying to do at Penn,” said Laurie Actman, the Penn Center for Innovation’s COO, adding that Penn is also focused on starting spinout companies that will stay in Philadelphia and this investment will help them reach that goal, at least with Gencore.