Donna DeCarolis, dean of Drexel University's Close School of Entrepreneurship, says start-ups need an ecosystem.

"Entrepreneurs, unlike the myth, don't start things themselves. Start-ups need an ecosystem to find human capital, help them build a team, an investment community, resources and money," she says.

"There's research showing areas that are rich in educational institutions, investment, and associations tend to create what's called an innovation district. The universities are the anchor, and the knowledge flows from there." Drexel is creating such an innovation district at its campus at 30th and Market Streets.

Jen Groover, inventor of the Butler Bag, also sees value in tapping into start-up communities by leasing office space in an incubator or coworking space, such as Benjamin's Desk in Center City.

"I like to go there because of the energy. Sitting at home working on a start-up, that isolation can kill your vision, and also your belief in it."

- Erin Arvedlund