State of the Upstate NY Start-up Ecosystem

I. Introduction

The purpose of this article is to analyze the startup ecosystem in upstate NY. I’ll analyze some of the pros & cons of ecosystem, some strategies for improving upon some of the issues, and an overview of start-up oriented meetups and organizations that help entrepreneurs to thrive in the upstate ecosystem. In order to continue to increase awareness, I will follow up this article in the coming weeks with some profiles on local start-ups and makers to watch. Additionally, I’m in the process of setting up a podcast titled “Upstate Venture Stories” so if you know anybody in particular I should interview, or would like to work with me, please do reach out — noahmadden@gmail.com.

II. Pros/Cons of Ecosystem

Pros:

  • Pay employees higher than Upstate norms
  • Receiving support from public and private sources
  • In need of college educated employees to achieve growth targets
  1. Access to early stage capital

III. Where we can improve

Recruiting and retaining local talent: the upstate area contains a plethora of college educated individuals, which is a key factor for scalable firms to continue to meet growth targets and create more jobs. We need to do a much better job of connecting graduating seniors and local talent with entry-level roles at scalable companies. Some ideas for attacking this issue:

  • Job fairs that connect high-growth companies with potential interns and entry-level employees.
  • Organized internship programs that allow students to build resume worthy experience at local start-ups.
  • A website that curates upstate start-up jobs for students and local job seekers. Similar to AngelList but solely focuses on the upstate NY ecosystem.
  • NYS can invest in a region-wide platform linking accredited investors and seed funds for improved investor visibility and recognition of successes.
  • NYS can also focus more funding/incentives on in-region scalable companies in the 6–10 year cohort as they are more likely to grow locally, have a much higher likelihood of success than fledgling startups and offer a relatively high return on public dollars.
  • There are also a number of platforms for non-accredited investors to make investments in technology companies, such as SeedInvest, Republic, and Wefunder. If we can invest time in educating younger generations on the potential of investing small sums into startups in the region, we can assist in the creation of new angel investors.

IV. Start-up oriented Meet-ups/events

From my perspective, there is certainly a need for more start-up oriented meetups in the upstate ecosystem. Meetups are a great way to network, educate on your product/service, and build a sense of fluidity in a startup ecosystem. Here are some that I’m aware of and are making an impact in the upstate ecosystem:

  • Launch their new venture to the public.
  • Provide new product demos/pitches and obtain feedback (and potentially initial customers).

V. Organizations that help entrepreneurs

Upstate Venture Connect (Syracuse): Upstate Venture Connect (UVC) is a 501c3 non-profit supported by tax deductible donations. Our mission is to connect and empower Upstate NY entrepreneurs with the resources for building high-growth companies.

Trying to provide value.