Center City: Curalate Pictures Bright Future in Philadelphia

Apu Gupta (second from left) Brendan Lowry (second from right) and Nick Shiftan (far right) were the first three employees of Curalate.
Apu Gupta (second from left) Brendan Lowry (second from right) and Nick Shiftan (far right) were the first three employees of Curalate.

Apu Gupta didn’t specifically want to start a company in Philadelphia. It just happened that way.

Curalate works with other companies to establish marketing strategies that utilize Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other visual-based social media outlets.
Curalate works with other companies to establish marketing strategies that utilize Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other visual-based social media outlets.

In May 2012, after unsuccessfully attempting to start a business that rented out people’s spare storage space, Gupta and his business partner, Nick Shiftan, came up with the idea to start Curalate, a business that helps other businesses promote themselves on visual-based social media. Gupta’s wife was working in the city, and he convinced Shiftan to move from California.

“We never set out to build a company in Philadelphia,” said Gupta, Curalate’s CEO. “It was happenstance. I think Philadelphia has become a really good place for us to grow the company.”

While it may seem odd for someone to move across the country to help start a company, Shiftan embraces the role of an entrepreneur.

Curalate's office, at 2401 Market Street, mostly consists of one big room, including a corner referred to as the "living room."
Curalate’s office, at 2401 Market St., mostly consists of one big room, including a corner referred to as the “living room.”

“Being an entrepreneur is all about having the chance to do things you’re totally unqualified to,” Shiftan said. “When we started Curalate, I knew absolutely nothing about computer vision, absolutely nothing about marketing. … That ignorance was bliss and allowed us to challenge a lot of preconceived notions and do things that no one had ever done before.”

Gupta and Shiftan are considered the co-founders of the company, but both gave credit to marketing manager Brendan Lowry, the company’s first employee, for helping start Curalate.

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 – Text, images and video by Evan Cross