Philly entrepreneurs find home in new Center City working space

For SiNae Pitts, 41, her app design company is finding its feet now that it has moved to Center City.

“Philadelphia is this size where you really can be part of the community,” said Pitts, originally from New York City. “I know most of the people in the tech community and the startup community.”

Pitts’ company, AMMO, (founded in 2008 as Amphetamobile, before “Breaking Bad” became a hit, she said), used to be based out of her converted garage in Upper Darby.

Now they have two offices and two dedicated desks at Pipeline Philly, a new shared workspace in Center City that opened in December.

“The day we moved in I tweeted on our account, ‘We have arrived,’ and I really feel that way,” Pitts said. “The atmosphere here, the professionalism, the design aesthetic is something we couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Pitts said she feels proud to welcome clients to the new office space, which boasts an aesthetic design few other Philly offices can match.

“Other spaces for younger developers are hosting hackathons and pizza parties, whereas here we’re already having wine tastings and galas,” PItts said.

AMMO specializes in the “mobile presentation of complex information.” Clients of their app design services have included companies such as Thomson Reuters, the World Bank, Elsevier publishing, and the American College of Chest Physicians.

Meanwhile, Aubrey Montgomery, founder of Rittenhouse Political Partners, a strategic fundraising firm she started in her home, said business is blossoming in its new offices at Pipeline. They moved in the first day the workspace opened on Dec. 15.

“To me, it’s very reminiscent of a freshman dorm in college,” Montgomery said of Pipeline. “It’s certainly more professional than that, but it has that atmosphere of ‘We all want to get to know each other.’”

The Knight Foundation, which funds initiatives in the arts, media and community has offices at Pipeline as well.

“It’s a new innovative space… and it’s nice to overlook Dilworth Park, where we’ve made an investment,” said Philadelphia program director Donna Frisby-Greenwood

Different approach

Shared workspaces aren’t guaranteed to succeed in Philly. Brooklyn-based 3rd Ward opened in Philly in 2013, and closed less than six months later – and took the whole company down with it.

But Pipeline has a different approach, said Tayyib Smith, a partner with Pipeline Philly.

“The way that 3rd Ward approached Philadelphia was basically, ‘We’re big New York guys, we have a lot of money, we’re doing this,’” Smith said. “We are local people, deeply invested in the city, and passionate about the city, whether it be social justice, nonprofit issues, or just as for-profit entrepreneurs.”

David Grasso, also a partner with Pipeline Philly, pointed out that 3rd Ward focused on artists, while other city coworking spaces are focused on startups. But Pipeline, located in the Graham Building across the street from City Hall, is open to members ranging from new startups to more established businesses.

“This is one of the new epicenters of Philadelphia’s emerging economy,” Grasso said. “All the buildings here are either recently renovated or being renovated.”

(Disclosure: Metro Philadelphia is located in the same building as Pipeline. The companies have no financial relation).