Isabelle Kent is Philly Startup Leader’s new CEO – Philly

Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) found its new CEO in HR and talent acquisition Isabelle Kent.

Kent provides experience in growth strategy and ecosystem development to the non-profit idea of ​​entrepreneurship. The former VP of growth for Toronto-based talent acquisition platform JobAdX also runs its own strategy company, Dedicova Consulting, through which she has consulted start-ups and Fortune 1000 companies. The Arcadia University degree has served as a virtual mentor Through the PSL and throughout the pandemic, she has offered pro bono career counseling to help jobseekers understand employment systems so they can find more opportunities.

“Job search is a learned skill,” she said Technically. “You do not know what you do not know. Everyone was kindly shocked by COVID and was without work with entire industries that did not employ. ”

PSL has had a unique role in Kent’s journey as an entrepreneur: She came up with the idea for her company Jigsaw while attending an entrepreneur’s bootcamp with the organization. PSL has been a continuous resource for her, she said, and she hopes to help others provide other prospective founders with similar guidance.

The ED post has been open since July, then Kiera Smalls left to become head of Delivery of blocks, an e-bike-powered delivery company. PSL also lost its head of programs and operations, Jaclyn Allen, when she left her job in December to work for Start Grind in partner success and startup engagement.

During Small’s time as CEO, she founded Underrepresented Founders Fund and oversaw the creation of the PSL idea step accelerator – which will soon announce its latest participating entrepreneurs, Kent said.

PSL has not had a CEO for several months, but Kent is enthusiastic about addressing where Smalls and Allen left off and working on a board where, as she put it, each member is capable and qualified for the job in question. (The organization had a communications coordinator and program director on staff while it sought new leadership. The board oversaw day-to-day operations.)

“This organization has been an important resource in the Philadelphia region and for my own entrepreneurial journey,” the new ED said in a statement. “I am humbled by the opportunity to build on Kiera’s legacy as a catalyst for representation and community involvement in Philly’s launch scene. I look forward to working with stakeholders and board members for the next chapter in PSL. ”

As a professional who remembers the effects of the recent recession, Kent is optimistic that she can work with her PSL colleagues to help entrepreneurs and their businesses succeed in a challenging time and help Philadelphia shine on the global stage. Driving digital engagement is one of her top priorities: “We hope to increase our digital presence and gain more engagement in society,” she said.

In addition to Kent’s new role, Switchboard Live vd Rudiger Ellis will be the president of the new PSL board as 1776 vd Jennifer Maher switches to chair. Four new board members will also start in three years: Juno search partners co-founder Mikal Harden; Comcast NBCUniversals senior program manager for startup engagement, Keenan Corrigan; At Goga founder and CEO Anna Greenwald; and Deep Fork Capital management partner and founder Timothy Komada.

Read Kent’s introductory letter to the PSL community below to learn more about her plans for the organization.


Hi Philly Startup Leaders community and entrepreneurs everywhere!

I could not be more excited to meet you all today!

As we move toward being resumed and resumed in a world that is inevitably different from what we have felt, we have the unique opportunity to reform, revolutionize, and revive our city by doubling what has worked and exploring what Philadelphia can be. We have come a long way over the years as a society and are happy about the future prospects and potential. When companies and societies define what is next, there will be an unsurpassed demand for new proposals and solutions.

Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to meet these demands. Innovation is in our blood. For centuries, Philly has challenged the status quo and come up with new ideas. Startups that will define our future are preceded by countless successes. In every corner of the city, leaders are stepping up to create the changes they want to see in their industries and neighborhoods. For over 14 years, Philly Startup Leaders has evolved from a volunteer-led organization to become a central hub for early innovation and entrepreneurship. Today, it brings together an entire ecosystem, promotes new economic development and welcomes newcomers to both the city and entrepreneurship. The past year has challenged us all but it has also ignited our imagination.

I have lived in the Philadelphia area most of my life since immigrating from Crimea. I moved to the city 12 years ago to attend Temple and Arcadia, where I studied sociology. For over 8 years, Philly Startup Leaders has been a career-defining resource for me as I explored my own entrepreneurial path. I have met so many incredible people through the organization and have learned so much from this welcoming community. I provide 10+ years of experience in innovation, organizational development and growth strategy, consulting companies and start-up start-ups. Most recently, I have worked in the recruitment technology space as a strategy consultant and as VP for growth for Toronto-based JobAdX. In addition, I have coached displaced jobseekers through my project, Gigsaw, by helping them transition to fulfilling new career paths. My passion is to connect others and decipher complex problems through ecosystem development and system solutions.

I am honored to have been chosen to lead Philly Startup Leaders through one of the most exciting and uncertain times. Based on the amazing achievements of my predecessor, Kiera Smalls, I am committed to uniting the entrepreneurial community in Philadelphia beyond our goal of inclusive and equitable economic development and innovation. I am following this journey of a skilled board with several new members and incoming President Rudiger Ellis.

As CEO, my priorities will promote our mission and vision for our community through our sponsors, peer organizations and the city. Some initiatives I will work with are:

  • Deepen relationships with community partners and sponsors to adapt our efforts and resources, maximize support for local startups
  • Create new entry opportunities into the entrepreneurial ecosystem for founders and talents
  • Form alliances with sister cities to share tactics, ideas and introductions
  • Develop national and global visibility to attract funding, business and talent. I welcome newcomers to our city and encourage them to get involved in the incredible organizations in their communities.
  • Coach, mentor and facilitate growth in scaling start
  • Start digital programming via events, Slack and social channels to improve accessibility
  • Work with The City and corporate sponsors to make entrepreneurship easier

With every recession comes a wave of innovation that changes culture and business. We invite our corporate, municipal and individual sponsors to lift our entrepreneurs through funding and mentorship so that Philly’s innovators are empowered in their experiments to meet progressive demands.

I am hopeful and energetic for the future and look forward to working with you all. I will be available via email and via the PSL Slack channel and would love to hear from you! Looking forward to building the next iteration of a vibrant, cooperative entrepreneurial community together. Thank you for participating in this mission!

With all the heat,


Michael Butler is a union member 2020-2021 for Report for America, an initiative from The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local news editors. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-