It is now widely recognized that young, fast growing companies have the most impact on job creation (Kauffman Foundation). UVC and its partners have been working diligently to promote the cause of high growth entrepreneurship across Upstate NY. The first Upstate Venture CEO Survey (conducted by Rochester-based CGR) offers many insights into high growth businesses and their economic impact on the state. It also points to opportunities for the broader community to support and nurture these drivers of our future economy.
2016 Upstate Venture CEO Survey highlights
• The 115 companies who responded span nearly 50 industries; more than half are less than six years old; 90% have national/global market aspirations
• Three out of four respondents indicated that 80% of their employees hold college degrees
• 70% of the total employee base (3,300 full time employees) are based in NYS
• 40% of companies reported average annual pay per worker was over $75,000; 75% said average annual payroll is over $40,000
• In 5 years, these companies plan to create nearly 9,600 direct new jobs
• Based on CGR’s experience, survey respondents likely represent 5-10% of all high growth companies across Upstate NY
The Survey has confirmed and quantified what we suspected
1. We know that high growth entrepreneurs are found in every Upstate New York community. We meet them at events like the Upstate Unleashed Conference, Startup Tech Valley and Bright Buffalo’s Entrepreneur Expo. When they speak to us about their companies, it’s clear they are not conforming to prescribed clusters. Instead they are leveraging innovation technologies like IT, basic science research and advanced manufacturing to DISRUPT every imaginable industry and market. This activity must be embraced and supported. If we follow policymakers and community leaders who envision an entire city through the lens of one industry or a specific technology, we will miss 90% of the high growth opportunities.
2. Because of their small size and widespread geographic distribution, these companies are often not visible beyond the immediate community and or campus in which they originate. Current data collection and reporting approaches make it impossible to focus attention on the seeds of growth in our midst.
3. One of the biggest needs for these companies to continue growing is access to college educated talent. Upstate has more than 100 colleges and universities educating half a million students from all over the world. Most graduates leave the region for larger metro areas because they are unaware of opportunities right down the road. Finding a way to make these firms visible to college students is necessary for building a stronger economy.
4. Access to investment capital is another major need. The public sector and higher education institutions are actively supporting entrepreneurs through a variety of small grants, business competition awards, etc., but this is just the first step. More needs to be done to mobilize private (angel and seed VC) investment across Upstate communities.
Upstate New York ecosystem leaders need to take action
Understanding the economic impact of these companies is just one step. The need to support these entrepreneurs is immediate and the task too big to leave in the hands of a few. Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in every Upstate community need to be engaged and involved in building a connected, startup-friendly ecosystem. Through uvc.org and the programs/services offered by our partners, there are innumerable ways to engage as mentors, investors, and community catalysts.
We are thrilled with the survey results showing the vibrancy of Upstate’s entrepreneurial community and eager to see how the findings will shape the ecosystem in the years to come. Its also that time of year when we are reminded that the work UVC does would not be possible without financial support from community members. If you are reading this and want to make a difference in rebuilding Upstate’s economy, please make a tax deductible donation today.