Honoring Your Favorite Ecosystem Builders

The Venture Ecosystem Awards was designed for individuals and companies making an impact on Upstate NY’s venture ecosystem. This year we received over 100 nominations across the 5 awards categories.

The 2018 finalists and winners will be revealed during a special awards celebration on October 2. All nominees are listed by categories below. This event has sold out for the last 3 years – and we did it again in 2018! Registration for the Upstate Unleashed Conference is now closed.

Campus Connector

For individuals affiliated with an educational institution who are leveraging on and off-campus resources to spinout startups and/or create opportunities to retain entrepreneurial students.

Judy Albers – VanArsdale Chair in Entrepreneurship, SUNY Geneseo

Joy Bhadury – (former) Professor / Dean, SUNY College of Brockport School of Business

Terry Brown – Executive Director, Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University

Michael D’Eredita – Professor of Practice, Syracuse University

Linda Dickerson-Hartsock – Executive Director, Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University

David DiMaggio – Program Manager, CASE Co-op Program at Syracuse University

Robert Edgell – Interim Dean, College of Business Management, SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Matt Grattan – Director of Community and Economic Development, University at Albany

Andrea Hickerson – Director of the School of Communications, University of Rochester

Laura Holmes – Assistant Director, Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Partnerships at Binghamton University

Amy Johnson – Director and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center at Albany Medical Center

Jim Joseph – Dean, Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College

Felix Litvinsky – Managing Director, Blackstone Launchpad at Cornell University

Julia Maddox – Director, iZone at University of Rochester

Robert Manasier – New Venture Manager, Innovate 518; Director, IgniteU NY

Ebony Miller-Wesley – Director, Center for Urban Entrepreneurship at Rochester Institute of Technology

Duncan Moore – Professor, Optical Engineering and Business Administration at University of Rochester

Richard Neff – Entrepreneur-in-Residence, University at Albany

Brett Orzechowski – Assistant Professor of Management and Media at Utica College

Tom Schryver – Executive Director, Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University

Esther Vargas – Director, Emerging Ventures Ecosystem (EVE) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Alexis Spilman Vogt – Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of Optics at Monroe Community College

Jan Woodcock – Managing Director, Blackstone Launchpad at Syracuse University

Magical Mentor

For individuals who have had a transformative impact on the trajectory of one or more startup companies.

Debra J. M. Best – Owner and Principal, Deb Best Practices; Mentor, New York BizLab

Doug Buerkle – Executive Director, NEXUS-NY

Antonio Civitella – President and CEO, Transfinder; New York BizLab; Geo Marketing

Tony Frontera – EIR, Southern Tier Startup Alliance; Lecturer, Binghamton University

Amy Johnson – Director and EIR, Biomedical Acceleration and Commercialization Center at Albany Medical College

Chuck Lannon – Owner, Strategic Advisory, Inc; Investor, PostProcess Technologies

Eric Leander – Partner, The Wagoner Firm PLLC; Mentor, StartFast, IgniteU NY and Veterans Business Outreach Center; Instructor, SEED program at UAlbany

Paul Lee – Of Counsel, Miller Mayer LLP; Mentor, NEXUS-NY

Robert Manasier – New Venture Manager, Innovate 518; Director, IgniteU NY

John Max Miller – CEO and Founder, Child Care Center Software; SmartEarly Learning Center; Mentor and Investor, StartFast

Lamont Mitchell – Director of Minority Affairs / MWBE Compliance Officer, City of Syracuse – Mayor’s Office

Steve Nicosia – President, Zen Advisory Partners; EIR, Launch NY; Mentor, SCORE Rochester; Advisor, 5D Innovations LLC

Mike Riedlinger – LaunchPad Program Manger, NextCorps; Director, Rochester Bioventure Center; Cofounder and Board Member, Diffinity Genomics

Andrew Scheinman – CEO, Nidus BioSciences; Principle, Scheinman Law

Bruce Toyama – Director, IgniteU NY; Advisory Committee, Innovate 518; VP Product Development, besstech

David Wojeski – Partner, Wojeski & Company CPAs, P.C.; Mentor, IgniteU NY; Innovate 518

Community Catalyst

For individuals who organize programs to bring together diverse startup ecosystem players in a local community and/or increase the amount of capital and the number of early-stage investors in that community.

Guha Bala – President, Velan Ventures; Cofounder, Velan Studios; Vicarious Visions (Activism Publishing)

Paul Ballentine – Executive Director for Emerging and Innovative Sciences at UofR; President, Mosiac Microsystems; Principal, Solennium

Robert Bojanek – Consultant and Investor; Cofounder, ShoreGroup Inc.

Holly Cargill-Cramer – Executive Director, The Valley Center of Gravity; Owner, Holly Cargill-Cramer Communications & Public Affairs

Antonio Civitella – President and CEO, Transfinder; New York BizLab; Geo Marketing

Rick Clonan – VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, CenterState CEO / The Tech Garden / GENIUS NY

Brian Corrigan – Advisor, PowerSpike, Velan Studios, Electronic Gaming Federation; Studio Director, PUBG Corp; Investor, Angel Round Capital Fund; Founder, MadGlory

Alfred Culliton – EIR, Launch NY; Volunteer, Ignatian Volunteer Corps

Rick D’Errico – Director of Public Relations, Transfinder; Managing Director, New York BizLab; Adjunct, Schenectady County Community College; Advisor, Our.News

Dennis DeLeo – President, Venture Jobs Foundation; Director, Upstate Capital Association of New York

David DiMaggio – Program Manager, CASE Co-op Program at Syracuse University

Tony DiMarco – Managing Director of Global Platforms, Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network; Founding Manager, Hudson Valley Startup Fund; Adjunct and EIR, SUNY New Paltz

Kathi Durdon – Director of Operations, Central New York Biotech Accelerator at Upstate Medical University

Troy Evans – Founder, CommonSpace; Founder and President, 16th Avenue, Inc; Founder, Syracuse CoWorks

Ellyn Ford – Entrepreneurship Project Coordinator, Center for Economic Growth

Jeff Goronkin – CEO, URBAN CO-WORKS; Chief Strategy Officer, Buzz Media Solutions

Jean Kase – Executive Director, The Entrepreneurs Network; Board of Directors, Chloe Capital; Investor, Rochester Angel Network

Annmarie Lanesey – President, Green Tree Technology; Cofounder, AlbanyCanCode; Board of Director, Capital Region Chamber of Commerce

Eric Leander – Partner, The Wagoner Firm PLLC; Mentor, StartFast, IgniteU NY and Veterans Business Outreach Center; Instructor, SEED program at UAlbany

Johnny LeHane – Cofounder and Owner, CLUBWAKA – Kickball & Social Sports; Managing Partner, Hudson Valley Startup Fund; Cofounder, CO. coworking

Joanne Lenweaver – Director, WISE Women’s Business Center at Syracuse University

Jordan Levy – Partner, Softbank Capital; Managing Partner, Seed Capital Partners, Chairman, Synacor; Board Member, 43North, Launch NY, ACV Auctions and BuzzFeed

Irv Levy – Founder and Managing Member, Capital Partners Business Solutions; Mentor and Advisor, 43North

Michael Lobsinger – Center Director of Business Growth Solutions; Center for Economic Growth

Mike Mandina – President, Optimax Systems; Founder, Finger Lakes Association of Manufacturing Excellence

Robert Manasier – New Venture Manager, Innovate 518; Director, IgniteU NY

Jack McGowan – Project Manager, Insyte Consulting; Director, Western New York Venture Association / Buffalo Angels; Mentor, University at Buffalo Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

Ryan Miller – Director, MVCC’s thINCubator; Organizer, TEDxUtica; Founder, Rust Belt Startup

Dan Mori – Director of Business Incubation, Binghamton University and Koffman Southern Tier Incubator; President and Chair, Employment Solutions; CEO, SpinGig; Angel Investor

Tom Nardacci – Founder and CEO, Aurelius Coworks; Owner, Troy Innovation Garage; Owner, Gramercy Communications; Owner, Bull Moose Club – Albany

Jim Pavone – Managing Partner, Steven James ROC; Executive Producer, FaithStreet Films; Supporter, Rochester Regional Endowment Fund at Rochester Regional Health

Matthew Pelkey – Partner, Colligan Law LLP; Adjunct, University at Buffalo School of Law; Correspondent, Upstate Venture Connect

Rick Plympton – CEO, Optimax Systems; Board Member, Treasurer, NY Photonics; Treasurer, Optics and Electro-Optics Standards Council; Board Member, The Finger Lakes Community College Foundation, Inc.

Peter Robinson – VP and COO, University at Rochester Medical Center; Investor, Rochester Angel Network

Jason Rotella – Software Developer, GE Digital; Founder, Capital Region Google Developer Group; Capital Region Community Connector, Upstate Venture Connect

Ken Rother – Managing Director of eLab, Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University; Director, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works; Venture Partner, Cayuga Venture Fund; EIR, Launch NY

Dan Schneiderman – K-12 University Center Senior Outreach Specialist, Rochester Institute of Technology; Co-chair, Maker Faire Rochester; Producer, NYS Maker Summit; Committee, Finger Lakes STEM Hub

Ron Schreiber – Partner, Softbank Capital; Managing Diretor, Seed Capital Partners; Director, Turbulent Energy

Tom Schryver – Executive Director, Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University; EIR, Cornell; CEO, PI Experiential Learning

Jim Senall – President, NextCorps (Luminate NY, NEXUS-NY, TEN); Managing Director, Rochester Angel Network

Jennifer Sertl – Founder and President, Agility3R; Strategy Consultant, Upstate Venture Connect, MedTech

Lynn Smith – Cofounder, Seed Capital Fund of CNY; Special Counsel, Barclay Damon; Investor and Mentor, StartFast Venture Accelerator

Jon Spitz – Managing Director, Z80 Labs Technology Incubator; Cofounder, Blockchain Buffalo

Jennifer Tegan – Partner, Cayuga Venture Fund; Board of Director, National Venture Capital Association, POM, Tompkins Trust Company, GiveGab and Upstate Capital Association of New York

Richard Uhlig – CEO, Quadrant Biosciences Inc.

Andrea Vossler – Partner in the Corporate Practice Group, Lippes, Mathias, Wexler & Friedman LLP

Matthew Wagoner – Founding Partner, The Wagoner Firm PLLC; Advisory Board, Innovate 518; Mentor, StartFast, IgniteU NY, Board of Directors, AlbanyCanCode; Organizer, 1 Million Cups Albany

Christine Whitman – CEO, Complemar Partners and Mosaic Microsystems; Chair, RIT; Founder, Greater Rochester Enterprise and Rochester Angel Network; Board of Trustees, NextCorps and Venture Creations

Ecosystem Champion

For individuals who are catalyzing and supporting startup activity across multiple Upstate NY communities.

Nasir Ali – Cofounder and CEO, Upstate Venture Connect; Cofounder and Managing Director, StartFast and Seed Fund of CNY; Board Member, Upstate Capital and NYS Innovation Venture Fund

Martin Babinec – Founder, UVC; Principal, UpVentures; Cofounder, Upstate Jobs Party and StartFast; Investor, Armory Square Ventures, Cayuga Ventures, Eastern NY Angels and Hudson Valley Startup Fund

Thomas Battley – Executive Director, New York Photonics; Advisory Board Member, Monroe Community College Optical Systems Technology Program

Kathryn Cartini – CMO, Upstate Venture Connect; Partner, Chloe Capital; Owner, Peacock Media LLC; Mentor, StartFast, IgniteU NY; EIR, Ain Center for Entrepreneurship at University of Rochester

Antonio Civitella – President and CEO, Transfinder; New York BizLab; Geo Marketing

David DiMaggio – Program Manager, CASE Co-op Program at Syracuse University

Richard Frederick – Founder and Co-Managing Director, Eastern NY Angels; Advisory Board Member, NEXUS-NY; EIR, Small Business Development Center; Board of Directors, Glauconix and Vital Vio

Elena Garuc – Executive Director, FuzeHub

Richard Glaser – Cofounder, Rochester Growth and RocGrowth; Sr Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch; Mentor, StartFast and Chloe Capital

Christine Howard – Owner, E.B. Howard Consulting; Judge and Mentor, Female Founders in Tech Competition 2018; Steering Committee, WNY Women’s Action Coalition; President, NAWBO Buffalo Niagara

Erica Iannotti – Project Manager, Technology to Market, NYSERDA; Investment Committee, Launch NY; MBA Team Coach, Startup Studio, Cornell Tech; Managing Principal Consultant, DaVinci Lab

Rami Katz – CEO, Excell Partners; Board Member, Upstate Capital Association of New York; Lecturer, Simon School of Business at University of Rochester; Mentor, NSF I-Corps

Chuck Lannon – Owner, Strategic Advisory, Inc; Investor, PostProcess Technologies

Marnie LaVigne – President and CEO, Launch NY and Launch NY Seed Fund

John Liddy – Director, Griffiss Institute Business Incubator; Principal, Liddy Enterprises; EIR, The Tech Garden, Mohawk Valley Community College; e200 Instructor, Interise

Robert Manasier – New Venture Manager, Innovate 518; Director, IgniteU NY

Elisa Miller-Out – Managing Partner, Chloe Capital; EIR, Cornell University,  Southern Tier Startup Alliance, Launch NY and NEXUS-NY; Instructor, National Science Foundation; Advisor, BAX; CFO, Singlebrook

Jeff Peterson – Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship, NYSERDA

Francis Pezzolanella – Managing Member, Primo Property Management; VP, Pezzolanella Construction Company; Owner, Ocean Blue Restaurant in Utica

Nicholas Querques – Program Manager, Technology to Market, NYSERDA; Board Member, Upstate Capital Association of New York; Mentor of Nanotechnology and Entrepreneurship, Junior Achievement of New York

Noa Simons – Executive Director, Upstate Capital Association of New York; Founding Manager, Hudson Valley Startup Fund; Executive Advisor, GENIUS NY; Innovation Fund Panel, FuzeHub

Lindsay Karas Stencel – Partner and Chief Legal Counsel, NCT Ventures; COO, Launch NY; Managing Principal, Lindsay Karas Stencel Law LLC

Steven Wood – Assistant Director of Innovation Services, The Research Foundation for SUNY; IP Attorney, Steven Albert Wood, Esq

Deal of the Year

For a company whose exit created wealth for its investors and founders/employees, as well as making the company a stronger contributor of the local economy.

American Fuel Cell (Rochester) – AFC is a premier developer of Membrane Electrode Assemble (MEA) technology – the key catalyst for fuel cells to create power. The company was acquired by Albany-based Plug Power Inc., a leading provider of energy solutions. Through this acquisition Plug Power will immediately have a facility in Rochester, NY, and create more job opportunities for talent in the Finger Lakes region.

Anaren (Dewitt) – Anaren is a leading global designer and manufacturer of high-frequency RF and microwave microelectronics, components, and assemblies for the space, defense, and telecommunications sectors. The company was acquired for approximately $775 million by TTM Technologies, Inc. “This is a compelling strategic combination that makes for an exiting new chapter for Anaren,” said Larry Sala, CEO. Anaren currently employees ~600 people in Central NY.

Bio-Optronics (Rochester) – Bio-Optronics is a producer of software and services focused on clinical research, automated scheduling, and patient safety. The company received $30 million in funding from growth equity firm Mainsail Partners. The new funding will be used to accelerate product development, improve customer service capacities, and boost sales and marketing efforts. Dan Kerpelman is the CEO of Bio-Optronics. He acquired the company 7 years ago. Bio-Optronics will remain and continue to grow in the Rochester area.

CaterTrax (Rochester) – Hospitality 101, Inc, doing business as CaterTrax, is an industry leading catering management software company that is built by caterers for caterers. The company was acquired by Volaris Group. CaterTrax was founded in 2004 by Rich Rund and Dan Welch as a result of streamlining their family-owned catering and restaurant operations. Today, over 7,500 operators, across multiple lines of business, use CaterTrax to manage their business. “We have enjoyed incredible success over the past decade,” said Rund, CEO. “As we consider the next decade and beyond, we want to align ourselves with a partner that can elevate our ability to execute our vision and mission.”

CloudCheckr (Rochester) – CloudCheckr is the leading cloud management platform. The company recently received $50 million in institutional funding. This Series A financing catalyzed an exceptional year for CloudCheckr. In 2017-18, CloudCheckr saw its direct client roster grow to manage over $1B+ in cloud spend for leading enterprises such as Nasdaq, Siemens and Regeneron. Founder and CEO Aaron Newman will be a featured speaker at the Upstate Unleashed Conference. Learn how to raise $50 Million. Get tickets ->

CommerceHub (Albany) – CommerceHub is a technology company that helps retailers manage e-commerce inventory. Clients include Walmart and Best Buy. CommerceHub was acquired for $1.1B. This acquisition comes off the heels of CommerceHub becoming a publicly traded company in 2016. For this deal, CommerceHub received last year’s Deal of the Year Award. Founder and CEO Frank Poore shared his plans for the future with UVC. Watch 5 Questions with Frank Poore ->

Datto (Rochester / Albany) – Datto is the leading provider of total data protection solutions for businesses around the world. The company was acquired at the end of last year, and simultaneously merged with Autotask. Autotask is located in East Greenbush, NY and was founded by Upstate NY angel investor Dick Frederick. Datto and Autotask combined have 1,400 employees, with a presence in 125 nations worldwide. Following the announcement of the acquisition and merger, Datto Founder and CEO Austin McChord donated $50 million to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 2009. This is the largest donation in the university’s history. About $30 million of the donation will go toward entrepreneurship development at RIT, including a new facility and supporting “entrepreneurial gap year” fellowships.

EagleDream Technologies (Rochester) – EagleDream Technologies is a veteran-owned business, and a leading IT technology firm that delivers measurable business improvement through a variety of IT services, including custom-built cloud solutions and website and app development. The company was acquired by Troy-based GreyCastle Security, the industry’s leading provider of cybersecurity risk assessment, advisory and mitigation services. Through this strategic partnership, GreyCastle will expand its existing footprint in Rochester, where 10 of the company’s 75 cybersecurity experts are located.

iCardiac (Rochester) – iCardiac Technologies is a leading provider of centralized cardiac safety and respiratory solutions. iCardiac was purchased by Norwest in 2014. Through this partnership, the company rapidly grew to meet the needs of its pharmaceutical and medical device clients worldwide. In December, Norwest sold iCardiac to ERT, a global data and technology company that minimizes uncertainty and risk in clinical trials. Alex Zapesochny, President and CEO of iCardiac, has joined ERTs executive team to lead the company’s iCardiac Safety business. Zapesochny co-founded iCardiac in 2006, based on technology developed at the University of Rochester. iCardiac has grown to more than 200 employees since.

MadGlory (Saratoga Springs) – MadGlory is a gaming studio that builds legendary platforms, including several major AAA gaming platforms. The company was acquired by PUBG Corporation. Together these companies will launch the PUBG Developer Portal as a place for community developers to create tools, websites and add-ons. MadGlory Founder and CEO Brian Corrigan will deliver a CEO Talk on how he’s helping to create an international gaming hub in the Capital Region. Don’t miss the update! Get tickets –>

Node40 (Albany) – Node40 develops a cryptocurrency reporting software that integrates directly with a few major bitcoin exchanges. This helps American bitcoin users, traders and miners disclose their transactions to the IRS for tax liability purposes. The company was acquired by Canadian cryptocurrency mining company Hashchain Technology Inc. (TSXV: KASH) for $8 million. What’s this? Perry Woodin, co-founder of Node40, has new developments to share. HashChain Technology will now spin off Node40 into a stand-alone, exclusive blockchain company. Woodin says this deal with boost the company’s plans to hire more developers in the Capital Region.

SpaceOutVR (Troy) – SpaceOutVR develops apps and software for virtual reality users. The company was acquired by Thus Valuesetters, Inc. SpaceOutVR Co-founder and CEO, Dennis Adamo, told UVC that through this deal, SpaceOutVR shareholders will receive 3:1 VSTR shares. Adamo said he’s excited about operating a wholly-owned subsidiary that will allow his team to leverage capital markets for the company’s project financing. “We now plan to migrate out platform to PC Virtual Reality, which would give us a major and competition position in the consumer market for premium Virtual Reality content,” said Adamo. “We hope to continue leveraging our academic and regional partnerships when we re-start our development in 2019.” Fun Fact: You may remember that SpaceOut changed its name from DayDream in 2016 after Google paid $850,000 for the trademark IP.

Specdrums (Ithaca) – Specdrums is a music technology company founded by Cornell graduates Steven Dourmashkin ’15, M.Eng. ’15, and Matthew Skeels ’18. Specdrums makes “smart rings” – app-connected wireless rings that turn colors into sound. A Specdrums user can make music by tapping onto any surface after assigning sound to different colors on their mobile device. The company was acquired by Sphero, a national robotics firm. With support from Sphero, which has products in 20,000 schools around the country, Specdrums hopes to expand its offering in the education sector, supplying students with new and exciting methods to study music. Dourmashkin and Skeels are also alumni of the Rev: Ithaca Startup Work’s Summer Hardware Accelerator program and Cornell University’s eLab program.

VoicePort (Rochester) – VoicePort is a provider of intelligent, interactive voice response patient engagement systems. The company was acquired by healthcare technology company PrescribeWellness. This acquisition will allow pharmacists, doctors and payers to connect with patients via voice, text, email and mobile. Chris Mann, VoicePort President and CEO said, “Our focus remains on providing customers with the highest-quality solutions as we build a strong foundation for the future.”

WorkOrder.es (Saratoga Springs) – WorkOrder.es is mobile work-order ticketing platform. The company was acquired by Bixby, a NYC startup. WorkOrder Founder and CEO Chris Thompson is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. What started as a way for him to manage his real estate investments quickly resulted in an better way to manage the influx of tenant, broker and vendor communications. With the acquisition, Bixby adds several hundred clients that rely on WorkOrder.es to submit and assign maintenance issues and repairs. Get the full story in this exclusive: Relationship building leads to exit for Upstate NY entrepreneur, investor ->

2018 Award Sponsor

Ernst & Young - Award Partner | 2018 Upstate Unleashed

Community Partners

NYSERDA | UVC Partners
Cooley | Upstate Venture Connect
Colligan Law | Upstate Venture Connect Supporters
FuzeHub | NYS Manufacturing Resource
The Tech Garden | UVC Sponsor
Andro | Upstate Venture Connect
NYS Science + Tech Law Center | 2018 Upstate Unleashed Sponsor
Visual Technologies | 2018 Upstate Unleashed Sponsor
Jorsek | easyDITA | Upstate Venture Connect
Fast Tracking Solutions | Upstate Venture Connect

Media Sponsor

CNYBJ - Media Partner | 2018 Upstate Unleashed

Event Partner

BizEventz - Event Partner | 2018 Unleashed Conference

Table Sponsors

2018 Sponsorships
TIX Sold Out
2018 Nominees

2017 Gallery

Upstate NY Entrepreneurs