2020 Unleashed Conference draws national and regional startup ecosystem leaders to Upstate NY

Upstate Venture Connect

November 12 online conference features Brad Feld, Rodney Sampson, Alicia Dicks; highlights the diverse nature of region’s emerging founders


Transformational changes have occurred in the ten years since Martin Babinec and Nasir Ali launched Upstate Venture Connect with a mission to connect Upstate entrepreneurs to each other and the resources needed for rapid growth. The 2020 Upstate Unleashed conference will celebrate these successes, reflect upon lessons learned and point towards some of the challenges that we face in creating a truly inclusive community of entrepreneurs and supporters. Free registration is now open at https://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.


This year’s CEO talks will feature Adam Maher, founder and CEO of Ithaca-based Ursa Space Systems and Jeff Mize, CEO of Buffalo-based Post Process Technologies.


In between the speaker sessions and awards celebrating success, the conference will also spotlight emerging entrepreneurs and leaders whose successes we will be celebrating in the coming years, including:

  • Syracuse businesswoman and community leader Vicki Brackens
  • Katelyn Huber, Buffalo-based founder of CloudInsyte
  • Wasim Khaled, Rochester-based founder of Blackbird.ai
  • Serial entrepreneur and Buffalo-based leader of Launch NY, Marnie Lavigne
  • Elisa Miller-Out, Ithaca-based founder of Chloe Capital, an early stage fund 
  • Timmy Oh, founder of Troy-based Vara Safety
  • Mitchell Patterson, founder of Wolf Jaw Studios in Glens Falls investing in women entrepreneurs
  • Syracuse based award-winning author, educator, and entrepreneur Emad Rahim


Nasir Ali, CEO

Upstate Venture Connect


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