As a woman of color, Juliana Reyes said she felt out of place when she became a reporter for Technical.ly Philly, a website covering technology news in the local area.
During the website’s first live podcast on March 25, Reyes described in a monologue how delighted she was when she earned the respect of her audience.
Reyes was enticed to join Technical.ly Philly by the passion of the company’s co-founders, Editorial Director Christopher Wink and Business Director Brian James Kirk – both Temple graduates.
“I joined the company because it was a startup run by Temple grads,” said Reyes, who graduated from Bryn Mawr College. “They were really passionate, and I was attracted to that passion.”
Technical.ly Philly was established in 2009 by Kirk, Wink and fellow Temple alumnus Sean Blanda, who left the company in 2012. The site, which maintains nine full-time employees, hosted its first live podcast recording at its offices in University City last Wednesday.
The show, which was hosted by Wink and Editor-in-Chief Zack Seward, featured a history of technical innovation in Philadelphia like dancers who mimicked Twitter messages about the lack of diversity in the technology industry, speeches from local business people in the field, a monologue from Reyes and other segments.
The live podcast served as a prelude to Philly Tech Week, which will run from April 17-25. Last year’s Philly Tech Week included more than 100 events and a plethora of speakers.
Wink, who graduated from Temple in 2008 along with Kirk and Blanda, thought the event cast a different light on technology media.
“If you’ve never been to a tech event or a tech business event, that was not normal,” Wink, who majored in political science, said. “We try to push the boundaries of what a technology community means, and who’s involved in the community.”
“We’re basically a tech business publication,” he added. “We should be pretty boring, but we try to stretch that.”
Kirk, Wink and Blanda met in the office of The Temple News when all three were staff members. Following graduation, the three went their separate ways, but Kirk, a freelance writer covering the technology community, saw a niche opening in Philadelphia.
“We saw an opportunity to fill a gap in coverage,” said Kirk, who majored in journalism. “At the same time, the media industry was going through a tremendous decline. For us, with that media industry decline in mind, we just felt like, ‘What if we would try to think differently about the journalism that’s being produced?’”
Wink said growing the brand Technical.ly was difficult, especially in 2009 when the website launched.
“I made less than $20,000 in 2009 between the first couple ads we sold at Technical.ly Philly, some freelancing I was doing for other publications; I did some landscaping,” Wink said. “2009 was a bad, bad, ugly, painful, terrible year for us – for me.”
Technical.ly expanded to Baltimore in 2012, Brooklyn, New York in 2013, Delaware in 2014 and most recently Washington, D.C. Developing audiences in these markets was a challenge, but the name recognition built by Technical.ly Philly has made the process easier, Wink said.
The goal of the expansion was to replicate the design of Technical.ly Philly in other cities where technical innovation was occurring.
“We wanted to take what we had done and build a model of community-focused, beat reporting, journalism instincts,” Wink said. “We’re trying to mix that with community-value events.”
Wink and Kirk attribute much of their success to their experience at Temple. Kirk said the journalism department aided him in getting an internship and his first job opportunities.
“For one, if you take advantage of the professors and their network, it opens a lot of doors,” Kirk said. “It’s all about taking advantage of what’s there.”
For Wink, Temple was an invitation to explore more opportunities.
“Temple was an entry point to Philadelphia,” he said. “Because it’s such a large university in Philadelphia, it was a ticket for us to get introductions to people and network. Honestly, Temple gave us Philadelphia.”
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at email@example.com.