Club Pitch Philly 2012 Award Winners


Blackboard, Inc.

Blackboard’s story is of innovations, acquisitions, and partnerships that have created one of the worlds leading educational platform companies.  Around the globe, Blackboard solutions are helping to improve every aspect of the education experience. Blackboard’s clients are using their technology to reach more students in immediate, personalized new ways. They are helping their educators become more effective. Blackboard keeps everyone informed, involved, collaborating together, and meeting the high expectations of today’s learners.

Their mission is clear: EVERYONE EDUCATED!

No other company offers as wide an array of integrated services to impact the whole education experience. No other company challenges the current model of education like Blackboard. Their success is clear and is demonstrated in how they impact the lives of students and the educational institutions that serve them by improving student engagement, accelerating learning and delivering financially sustainable student services.   With over 850 institutions and over 15 million students served, Blackboard has become the standard of excellence in the education industry.  Its software has over 12,700 licenses in 70 countries.

But like every successful company it had to start somewhere as an idea, an innovation, a vision.  Founded in 1997, Blackboard was started by two college friends named Matt Pittinsky and Michael Chasen.  With 15 clients in 1998, they applied and were accepted to present at the very first Early Stage East held in Wilmington, Delaware.  They were the fourth company to ever present at the event.  In the audience were three investor groups: Internet Capital Group, Novak Biddle and Aurora Funds.  Impressed by what they heard and learned these investors came together to become Blackboards first institutional investors with an approximate $3 million round.  And the rest was history.

By 1999, more than 500 clients had implemented Blackboard, growing to over 1200 clients in 2001 and 2000 clients using Blackboard Solutions by 2004.  It was in 2004 that Blackboard went public on the Nasdaq.  Rapid growth continued and partnerships with such impressive groups as McGraw Hill,, Facebook and others were initiated.  In 2011, Blackboard went private with an acquisition by Providence Equity Partners.  Since its inception, Blackborad has been the recipient of hundreds from around the globe.  It is with great honor and privilege that Early Stage East bestows its Legendary Alumni Award to Blackboard, Inc.!


The Sal Buccieri Memorial Venture Impact Award is awarded to an individual in the venture capital and entrepreneurial community who exemplifies the passion towards seeing early stage entrepreneurial opportunities succeed and flourish. This individual is one who has clearly impacted early stage technology and fast growth venture opportunities by providing the essential capital, extensive counseling and necessary vision to allow such companies to win in today’s competitive environment. The recipient of this Award is one who strives to create a better environment for all so that entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and attain success.

The Sal Buccieri Memorial Venture Impact Award is named in memory for Salvatore Buccieri. Sal passed away in December 2000 after a hard-fought battle with cancer at the age of 39. Sal was a partner at Arthur Andersen in the Growth Company Practice that he joined in 1984 after graduating from Drexel University. He worked extensively throughout his career assisting early stage companies with financial and business issues. Sal was closely involved with Early Stage East® and is missed by all.


University City Science Center

Established in 1963, the University Science Center is the oldest and largest, urban research park in the United States. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the Science Center is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose shareholders include 31 distinguished colleges, universities, and research institutions across the tri-state region of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The Science Center will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013.

The Science Center accelerates technology commercialization and the market availability of life-enhancing scientific breakthroughs by bringing together innovations, scientists, entrepreneurs, funding, laboratory facilities, and business services. Encompassing 17 acres, 15 buildings, and over two million square feet of fully equipped laboratory and office space, the Science Center provides an unparalleled regional resource center designed to inspire a community of knowledge, spark the spirit of enterprise, and help expand and strengthen the region’s technology sector.

The Science Center  offers a steady stream of networking, professional development, and entrepreneurial support programs designed to leverage the rich resources available on our campus and in the region. It’s Port Business Incubator flexibly accommodates the changing needs of emerging, fast-growth companies. The Global Soft Landing Program fosters international business in the U.S. by helping global companies establish a foothold in local life sciences and IT markets. The QED Proof-of-Concept Program supports proof-of-concept work in early-stage life science technologies with commercial potential. Quorum unites the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation communities through a central gathering space on the Science Center campus and related programs. Breadboard convenes communities around creative applications of technology.  

The more than 350 companies that have originated at the Science Center today employ more than 15,000 people in the Greater Philadelphia region.  The work of the approximately 100 incubator and resident companies that currently call the Science Center home ranges from information technology, nanotechnology and green technology to cognitive science, bioinformatics, diagnostics, healthcare and medical devices. Graduates include Centocor, Bentley Systems and SEI Investments.