By Nasir Ali, Cofounder & CEO of Upstate Venture Connect
Since launching Upstate Venture Connect in 2010, Martin and I have met with thousands of Upstate NY entrepreneurs, from startup founders to CEOs of profitable fast growing companies. Invariably, our conversations with every CEO turn towards a few themes:
- Difficulties recruiting talent
- Difficulties getting noticed/recognized
- Difficulties securing the next round of growth capital
On the surface, these are universal challenges for CEOs everywhere. However, the underlying causes are different for Upstate CEOs versus their compatriots in Silicon Valley, NYC, Austin and Boulder.
Startup hub CEOs are in a highly competitive environment where demand for talent, media attention and venture capital outstrips supply. As a result, they spend a lot of resources on marketing and public relations to rise above the noise.
In contrast, Upstate CEOs live in communities that are not attracting talent, but exporting it. Our half million college students have no visibility to opportunities beyond the campus walls and each spring, one of the largest STEM cohorts in the country graduates and leaves the area to work at emerging companies elsewhere. Upstate based media outlets cater to a highly localized audience and have limited interest in spotlighting emerging companies. Our region as a whole remains opaque to the vast numbers of investors in neighboring hubs like NYC and Boston.
UVC is committed to changing this dynamic by shining a spotlight on Upstate’s emerging economy. Now, we are asking Upstate’s emerging company CEOs to step into the light.
UVC’s network today directly touches more than 12,000 people. These include startup founders and supporters in Upstate communities and alumni/expats in major startup hubs. We are connected to hundreds of angel investors and principals at the most prominent US venture firms. Equally importantly, our communications reach hundreds of entrepreneurial students at scores of upstate universities and over 30,000 creative and tech oriented meetup group members.
We know that for every investor backed high growth tech company in a community, there are dozens more that are growing organically and creating high value jobs. The impact these firms have on our communities is collectively significant, but the data to make the case is unavailable.
That is why we are asking Upstate CEOs to fill out a 5 minute confidential survey so that the truth we all know can be shared with the region and world at large. This is the data that will enable us to get the attention of talented job seekers, investors, and policymakers.
UVC has the audience and the communications channels, help us create the message of opportunity that will lead to a new surge in business growth across Upstate NY!