Founding a company in Upstate New York should be next to impossible. We’re nowhere near any of the major startup ecosystems – instead, we’re in between a bunch of mountains, trees, and many cows. With the odds so obviously stacked against us, we still see a consistent flow of new and successful business being founded in the area. Why is that?
Well, the answer is the numerous startup ecosystems and resources available. In this article, I’ll take you through some of the resources that I have found helpful, as well as the various ecosystems you can participate in to increase your entrepreneurship exposure before you start your first company. Here are the startup ecosystems that I participated in locally:
- Startup Tech Valley: A monthly meetup event often paired with a free beer or two for those who register in advance. You’ll see other startups and entrepreneurs in the area give presentations, and you’ll have the chance to network with an attendance list of 80-100 people.
- One Million Cups: A weekly meetup event in which one entrepreneur will present his/her company. The purpose of these events is to help one and other. Every presenter is asked the question: “How can our community help you.” If you have a skill-set that meets their needs, maybe you can be their next team member! Otherwise, go and present when you are ready.
- Startup Grind: This is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. Similar to the previous two, you can expect a presentation, and probably some decent networking.
Besides these ecosystems, you also will have access to a tremendous startup community in upstate New York. There are very many resources, but I’ll list just a few those which I found to be most helpful.
- Upstate Venture Connect: @UVConnect is an entrepreneur-led nonprofit helping to connect Upstate New York entrepreneurs with the resources needed for success. The first person I ever made contact in the entrepreneurial community, Kathryn Cartini, helped me join their network early on in its development. The wonderful team at UVC is always willing to help make a connection or achieve a goal.
- IgniteU NY: This startup accelerator does not take equity in your company, nor do they make any financial investment. The accelerator is built for the sole purpose of developing startups into successful businesses. The resources, connection, and help they provide are tremendously helpful. While you have to be accepted into their program to leverage many of their resources, they’re still willing to help any startup in any way they can.
- The Wildcat Foundation: This organization is a lesser known entity in the area but at just a 20-minute ride from the University at Albany you will find free office space available for entrepreneurs. The only catch is that you will also have to complete up to 8 hours of community service per month in educating students in entrepreneurship. This organization is quickly growing and might be in many schools soon to come.
- Blackstone Launchpad: This advisement group based out of the University at Albany is specifically tailored to guide student entrepreneurs. Their goal is to have at least 10% exposure to entrepreneurship at the University at Albany, but they have greatly surpassed that goal.
- Lastly, everyone should know these following websites and programs: Angel.co, HubSpot.com, Trello, Slack, and LinkedIn. I may have missed other great resources, so if I did please let me know and I’ll add them to this article.
I hope that you found this list useful. I am an entrepreneur in Upstate New York, but my company is quickly growing beyond this purview. Without the resources that these foundations, organization, and programs make available, it would be extremely difficult to start a company between all these cows, mountains and trees. Feel free to check out my company Moo Plans, which will soon be raising a $200,000 seed round. I also recently became a co-founder of GivDapps, which will be releasing version 2 of it’s innovative donation platform.
I’m always willing to help new and old entrepreneurs in any way that I can. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org (depending on the topic).