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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
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Isabelle Kent

Chief Executive Officer

Philly Startup Leaders

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Founded: 2006

Industry: Nonprofit / Economic Development / Tech

Isabelle Kent’s entrepreneurial journey started when she made the shift from the hospitality industry to the startup world. She attended Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) networking events and panels and recognized the welcoming and supportive nature of the community, she said.

Through PSL, Kent found mentors, made connections and participated in the PSL Bootcamp. Armed with newfound skills and access, Kent excelled in business development roles at prominent companies such as Randstad Technologies and Cision PR Newswire.

When the pandemic hit, Kent was validating a startup concept focused on career transition support. During this time, she connected with Shannon Morales, the founder of Tribaja and a PSL alumni, and started offering webinars to support job seekers. Morales recommended Kent for the executive director role at PSL. Kent embraced the opportunity to make a difference and rebuild a small, event-driven nonprofit.

“I left a wonderful, stable corporate job to start my own global startup growth strategy consultancy,” Kent said. “My corporate job was great on paper, but I was unfulfilled and burning out from not utilizing my strengths to their full potential. I took the risk of starting my own business, which threw me back into the high-risk world of early-stage startups where no two days, problems or clients were the same. Ultimately, I learned a ton about global startup ecosystems, built loads of meaningful relationships and gained professional experience, which moved me into leadership far faster than a more traditional route.”

As chief executive officer of Philly Startup Leaders, Kent introduced initiatives such as Diversitech Fest, a nationally focused conference celebrating diversity in tech, and launched five new accelerators to support emerging entrepreneurs. Kent also represented Philly on the global stage, participating in conferences and exchange programs to strengthen innovation partnerships.

Under Kent’s leadership, PSL has transformed from a small-scale organization to a key player in the region’s startup ecosystem. The nonprofit, with its mission to create more equitable entrepreneurship, has become a convener, connector and navigator for over 12,000 founders and emerging entrepreneurs.

Kent’s vision for the next five years includes not only expanding PSL’s offerings but also ushering in change in the region, promoting emerging sectors, advocating for policy changes and fostering global collaborations, the nonprofit said.

Kent has been named a Technical.ly RealLIST Connector and one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s #Power100 most influential business leaders. She serves as an Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee Member for Rowan University’s Rohrer School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where she supports student entrepreneurs and helps inform emerging sectors of focus for the university programs.

Presented by:

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Did you know?

I’m originally from Simferopol, Crimea, am an aspiring gardener, an advocate for animals (we have 3 rescues – 2 cats and an Elkhound), a passionate cook and foodie, and have visited 40+ countries. I also got to choose my own name at 13 when we got US citizenship and dead serious, we landed on Kent as the family name because my sister was obsessed with Smallville at the time and my dad thought it was cool that we could be superheroes. I also moderate a 9,000 member group for Expats in Portugal run by my parents (started when they retired abroad).

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