A decade may not seem like such a long time, but it’s easy to overlook just how different life felt back in May of 2011.
The Oprah Winfrey show was about to hang it up after a twenty-five-year run on tv, the world would soon lose Steve Jobs before iPhones had really become the mainstay of our daily zeitgeist that we now know them to be, and through social networks like Instagram, hashtags had just started to experience the type of rapid virality that would eventually lend itself to a global phenomenon.
While just about everyone else was looking for ways to convene digitally, and on the heels of a recommendation from a 2007 CEO Council for Growth study, we set out to create an analog place just for you, our valued Science Center community.
Most would be surprised to learn that it was originally intended as a counterpart to our QED Proof-of-Concept program for academic researchers in their earliest stages. In addition to the creation of a multi-institutional proof-of-concept program to help bring academic research and breakthroughs to the masses, the study also recommended a venue be created “to serve as the ‘clubhouse’ for innovation in the region and provide programming to attract researchers, entrepreneurs and investors to the venue.” And, perhaps fittingly, few within the organization at the time would deny that the endeavor was itself an experiment in its early stages.
What we knew was that we could put together a pretty good program for
you and we already enjoyed a robust track record of doing so. Even back
then, you were already attending our Smart Talks and Lunch for Hungry
Minds organized by the late Dr. Nicholas A. Kefalides. But we also knew
you still needed a dedicated public workspace and a community with a low
barrier to entry. Quorum was born.
The idea is not so revolutionary now, but when Quorum opened there was nothing like it in our ecosystem. We were pioneering a place where you could drop in - for free - and get work done, without being tethered to any sort of membership. A space of its kind, open to all, simply didn’t exist. So yeah: it kind of was revolutionary. (Again, different times).
Nowadays, we are glad that you can point to several other options. When there are increased resources for the startup and entrepreneurial community, we all win.
Eventually, with our move from the eighth floor of 3711 Market Street to the first and second floors of 3675 Market Street, we expanded even further by increasing the size and offerings of our event space. We heard you when you told us it was sorely needed, and we now had a whole additional level with which to provide it.
But regardless of which building we were in, as Quorum progressed, we racked up a roster of impressive and influential speakers. We created Coffee and Capital to give you unfettered access to members of the investment community. The Phillies’ Ryan Howard continued in the tradition of innovative and fascinating Smart Talks, illuminating us on sports tech. Our RAIN Conference, launched in 2009, was graced by everyone from Chris Wink, CEO of Technical.ly, Amy Nelson, CEO of Venture for America, and Phil Gaskin, now the Director of Entrepreneurial Communities for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. We hosted graduation ceremonies for the many nurses that are a vital part of University City. Philly Tech Meetup launched and grew out of Quorum. We held blood drives in support of our local banks and in partnership with the American Red Cross.
Since its inception, Quorum has been an assembly place and an anchor for startups and innovators of all stripes. But we cast our net widely, and somewhere along the way the once dubbed “Entrepreneur’s Clubhouse” became “the living room for the community” - a phrase coined by Victor Hwang, the then Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.
So when we were forced to close our doors in March of 2020, it never felt right for us to not keep going. As our glass façade stood witness to empty streets, masked visitors and protests for social justice, the virtual programming and virtual events continued.
And you didn’t miss a beat either. Over 3,000 of you tuned in and “showed up” for hundreds of events since we made that pivot.
We worked tirelessly on our safety and hygiene practices until we were certified by the GBAC STAR™ Facility Accreditation Program to provide peace-of-mind to our ever-evolving levels of comfort. And when we were back in person briefly last summer, we hosted a successful socially-distanced event in Philly; because like us, the Census had to keep going and their trainings needed to take place somewhere, in person.
Now, on our 10th anniversary, we are ready to once again welcome all of you back - the nearly 112,000 of you that walked through our lounge, attended our programs, and hosted your events with us in in the last ten years alone, and many more yet.
You are the innovators, the thinkers, the budding entrepreneurs, the small businesses, the college students, the academics, the STEM learners who will shape our future for the better, and the vibrant neighbors who inspire us to action every day and are the fuel behind this resource that we created just for you.
That’s the beauty of Quorum: we are here, ready to help you get to work whenever you need us-- and even when you don’t.
Cheers. Here’s to another 10.