By Anjani Iman | Daily Orange
Marc Randolph, co-founder and former CEO of Netflix, will speak at the Upstate Unleashed Conference & Venture Ecosystem Awards at the Oncenter Convention Center on Tuesday.
The sold-out conference is hosted by Upstate Venture Connect (UVC), a non-profit organization focused on creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups to succeed.
Randolph’s roots in upstate New York go back to his time at Hamilton College, located in Clinton. After graduating in 1980 with a degree in geology, Randolph co-founded the streaming service Netflix in 1997 and served as its CEO until his retirement in 2004.
Randolph continued his career by founding several successful startups, mentoring entrepreneurs and investing in numerous tech ventures, according to a press release. He is now a frequent speaker at industry events similar to the Upstate Unleashed Conference.
“I am excited to return to Upstate NY, to visit the Hamilton campus, and to engage the next generation of entrepreneurs who are transforming the region’s economy,” Randolph said in the release.
This year will be the fourth annual installment of the conference, but with a new addition. For the first time, the conference will feature a panel of business executives from various parts of the upstate region — Albany, Ithaca and Syracuse — which will widely cover the landscape of local business development.
“It’s our pleasure to welcome Marc Randolph back to upstate N.Y.,” said UVC Founder Martin Babinec in the release. “His creative vision and tolerance for risk have fundamentally transformed the landscape of our world through technology.”
Aside from informational panels on creating a regional startup ecosystem, the conference serves as an award ceremony that recognizes investors and industry heads that help entrepreneurs.
UVC co-founder Nasir Ali said the investors’ awards will also “encourage more people to follow in their footsteps and create opportunities for startups and investors to meet and connect.”
When choosing the Upstate Unleashed Conference keynote speaker, UVC co-founders Ali and Martin Babinec said they prioritize successful industry leaders who have a special connection to the region, as well as continue to pay it forward by helping entrepreneurs and local startups.
Ali said he began UVC after seeing many new companies were choosing to operate in larger cities, comparing them to successful local companies like Airbnb and Priceline. After working with many businesses in and around Syracuse, Ali became passionate about seeing local companies expand and become the big companies of the future.
Ali said he hopes to expand UVC to college campuses like Syracuse University, where there is opportunity for startups to gain visibility and hire young and talented people.