UNLEASHED 2020 to recognize Auto/Mate and Fuzehub with Deal of the Year and Ecosystem Champion Awards

UNLEASHED 2020 to recognize Auto/Mate and Fuzehub with Deal of the Year and Ecosystem Champion Awards


More than 450 entrepreneurs and community builders are registered for the first ever online Unleashed Conference


November 4, 2020–For Immediate Release


Upstate Venture Connect, the organizers of the annual Upstate Unleashed Conference and Venture Ecosystem Awards announced that Capital Region based Auto/Mate will be recognized as the winner of the Deal of the Year Award. Deal of the Year symbolizes a company whose exit created wealth for investors, its founders and employees, as well as makes the company a stronger contributor to our local economy in Upstate NY. “The Auto/Mate story exemplifies the strengths of our region. Under Mike’s leadership, the company continued to grow, while continually being recognized as a great place to work and a trusted partner for thousands of franchise auto dealerships.” Mike Esposito, former CEO of Auto/Mate will receive the award on behalf of the company.


FuzeHub, a NY statewide nonprofit focused on manufacturing innovation will be recognized with the 2020 Ecosystem Champion Award. This Award is for individuals and organizations who are catalyzing and supporting startup activity across multiple Upstate NY communities. FuzeHub founder and Executive Director Elena Garuc will accept the award. “Under Elena’s leadership, Fuzehub has rapidly emerged as the go-to partner for manufacturing innovators across our region. The organization’s highly knowledgeable staff, deep network of partners and its early check-writing ability with the Jeff Lawrence Fund have helped hundreds of manufacturing innovation projects in a very short period of time.” 


This year marks the first online Upstate Unleashed Conference. In addition to curating two hours of discussions and presentations from Upstate NY and national changemakers, UVC turned to the Brella.io platform to maximize one-on-one meetings via 15-minute video calls. Registration is free at next.brella.io/join/unleashedconference.


The keynote conversation will feature Boulder, CO venture capitalist and author Brad Feld. According to UVC founder Martin Babinec, “Brad first visited Upstate NY in 2011. Our landscape is very different today with unicorn valuation companies in Buffalo, Rochester and Albany, plus scores of smaller but equally ambitious startups. His new book The Startup Community Way distills many new lessons as we continue the Upstate community building journey.”


While social justice, equity and inclusion have recently begun to dominate national headlines, Rodney Sampson of Opportunity Hub has dedicated his life’s work to building an inclusive platform where all people can have access to the generational wealth creation made possible by tech entrepreneurship. Rodney will share his perspectives and plans with Alicia Dicks, President of the Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counties. “We are excited to have an amazing leader like Alicia bring a national leader like Rodney Samptson to help build inclusive entrepreneurship initiatives in Utica and the surrounding region,” said UVC CEO Nasir Ali. 


Leading off the day’s agenda will be the father-son duo of veteran pollster John Zogby and Jeremy Zogby. John and Jeremy will live-record a session of their weekly podcast with a recap of the Nov 3 election and some fascinating polling results measuring sentiments among various age groups regarding the benefits/costs of accelerating technology change.


View all UNLEASHED 2020 speakers and partners at UVC.org/Upstate-Unleashed




About Upstate Venture Connect
Upstate Venture Connect (UVC) is a 501c3 public nonprofit creating an entrepreneur-led startup ecosystem for Upstate NY. Our mission is to empower and connect Upstate NY entrepreneurs to the people and resources needed for building high-growth companies. To these ends, UVC hosts Upstate Unleashed, an annual conference and awards luncheon that celebrates the top CEOs and entrepreneurial leaders in Upstate NY for their contributions. UVC also hosts a region-wide events calendar and a communications platform that reaches over 16,000 founders and startup supporters. The UNY50 Leadership Network is another signature resource. Membership is invitation-only for individuals who have experienced the startup world roller coaster, and who are committed to paying it forward.
Learn more at UVC.org.

Nasir Ali, CEO
Upstate Venture Connect

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