Guitar Hero Founders to Keynote Upstate Unleashed Conference

Velan Studios Raises $7 Million in Series A Funding

Guha and Karthik Bala cofounded Vicarious Visions, now run Velan Studios in Troy and invest in Upstate NY startups

UPSTATE, NY – (PRESS RELEASE) – Upstate Venture Connect (UVC) is excited to announce that Guha and Karthik Bala, two of Upstate New York’s most successful founders and investors, will deliver the keynote address at the 2017 Upstate Unleashed Conference.

Guha and Karthik Bala are the cofounders of innovation investment firm, Velan Ventures, and Velan Studios, an independent gaming studio launched last fall in downtown Troy, NY. Velan Studios recently secured $7 million in venture capital funding. This is one of the largest early-stage investments in experimental gaming development, and one of the largest investments ever in the Capital Region. Since November, the Balas have hired dozens of employees. With this new infusion of capital, the duo will continue creating jobs as they aim to make the Capital Region a gaming hub.

In 1991 the Bala brothers founded gaming studio Vicarious Visions. The company grew to more than 150 employees, and worked on more than 100 games, including big console releases like Guitar Hero, and Skylanders Superchargers. The company’s games sold as many as 40-50 million units, and generated billions in sales. The Bala brothers started Vicarious Visions when they were in high school out of their parents’ basement. They sold the company to game publishing giant Activision in 2005, and continued to run the division until last year.

According to UVC cofounder and CEO, Nasir Ali, “Guha and Karthik epitomize the talent so richly distributed across Upstate New York. Their decision to launch Vicarious Visions as teenagers, raise capital from investors in Syracuse and Albany, then run a major division of Activision post exit has led to a stream of successful e-gaming companies. Now the brothers are going back to their startup roots and also paying it forward by mentoring and investing in a new generation of Upstate founders.”

2017 Upstate Unleashed Conference | Kenotes

This year’s Upstate Unleashed Conference also features top Upstate New York CEOs who are building the future today. View all speakers at

The conference will conclude with the Upstate Venture Ecosystem Awards Luncheon celebrating the contributions of over 100 startup ecosystem builders. Tickets are available at

Interview opportunities prior to, and after the event, are available with our speakers, sponsors and award winners.  



About UVC
UVC is a 501c3 public nonprofit creating an entrepreneur-led startup ecosystem for Upstate NY. Our mission is to connect and empower Upstate NY entrepreneurs with the resources for building high-growth companies. Since 2010, UVC has helped launch six angel funds and four startup accelerators. UVC also hosts a region-wide events calendar, online startup map and a communications platform that reaches over 13,000 founders and startup supporters. In 2014, UVC launched UNY50, an invitation only network of individuals who have experienced the startup world roller coaster. These leaders are committed to helping build the next great Upstate companies. UVC was awarded the 2015 Global Innovation Ecosystem Award. Learn more at and here’s how the community can help support our mission


Upstate Venture Connect
Kathryn Cartini

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