Fri February 28, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Investment dollars for upstate New York startups on the rise

NathanaelB / Via Flickr

The amount of money being invested in startup businesses in upstate New York is increasing, but that doesn’t mean starting a business here is suddenly easy.

Upstate Venture Associates of New York, or UVANY, a startup business investment firm, found that nearly twice as much money came into upstate New York in the third quarter of last year, in comparison to the year before. There were 29 deals that quarter, worth $75.86 million. That's up from 16 deals worth $40.56 in the fourth quarter of 2012, UVANY found.

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Tue January 21, 2014

'Next Great Idea' competition underway again in Oswego County

Lakeside Artisans accepts their award during the 2010 "Next Great Idea" competition. From left to right: Jeff Grimshaw, Larry Perras, Allen Bjorkman, Michele Southgate, Tim Ames, Austin Wheelock, and L. Michael Treadwell.

Entrepreneurs in Oswego County could have their dreams of owning a business come true by competing in the third "Next Great Idea" business plan competition.

Austion Wheelock, economic developer for Operation Oswego County, says the competition helps establish a culture of entrepreneurism and brings jobs and business to the area.

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Sat January 11, 2014

Startup Labs starts second year with more physical products

Nasir Ali, left, and Clint Nelson discuss the startup scene in Syracuse at the launch of Startup Labs.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

A product that could be straight out of a science fiction movie is one of the projects going through the Startup Labs business competition in Syracuse this winter.

The guys behind Crowsnest Labs, Mike Kruk and Ian Wilson from Rochester, are working to develop technology that will allow them to put tiny cameras inside, say, an ad in a subway station. Those cameras would analyze who stops to look at an ad and how interested they seem.

Remember that scene from the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report?

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Wed December 25, 2013

Refugee communities diversify upstate business environment

Somali Community in Western New York

The desire for familiar food, clothing, and other products from home is spurring refugee communities in upstate New York to start their own businesses. In response, a group in Rochester has organized a six-week startup business training course to help the Somali refugee community navigate the process.

“They can actually create their own little local economy where they can exchange, similar to what they had in Somalia,” says David Dey, president and CEO of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship.

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Mon November 25, 2013
Regional Coverage

New app makes plowing the driveway a breeze

Mark Hogan Flickr

Much of central New York got it’s first taste of winter this weekend. One local entrepreneur is hoping it sparks interest in a smartphone app that’ll bring a snowplow to your doorstep.

Plowz is a free smartphone app, and its creators hope it will help take the shovel out of your hands on those Syracuse mornings when you wake up to a snow clogged driveway.

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Fri November 22, 2013
Refugee Resettlement

Unique challenges for refugees becoming entrepreneurs

Martin Butts, left, goes over Ethiopian-born Fesseha Kahsay's business plan as part of the UP Start business incubator.
Ryan Delaney WRVO


Mon August 19, 2013

Young entrepreneurs compete to impress investors

Anthony DiMare gives his company, Regattable, sales pitch to potential investors at the 2013 Syracuse Student Sandbox Demo Day in the Hosmer Auditorium at the Everson Museum.
Tom Magnarelli

College students from across upstate New York pitched their businesses to an audience of potential investors. It was the end of a 12-week program called the Syracuse Student Sandbox, which mentors young entrepreneurs on generating revenue for their startups.

"Teams are coming out of the sandbox at the end of the summer already having some funding, already having products, already having some customers," said John Liddy, the director of the program he helped start in 2009.

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Thu May 9, 2013
The Upstate Economy

SUNY program aims to boost entrepreneurship in region

AGmakonts Creative Commons License

The SUNY Research Foundation will give funds to several of its institutions to help foster entrepreneurship, including the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and Upstate Medical University.

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Sat April 13, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Canada woos entrepreneurs with visa program; should U.S. follow?


Canada is aiming to woo bright young entrepreneurs with a startup visa program. The plan offers immediate permanent residence to foreign nationals who are able to secure business funding from Canadian investors. But, there are mixed feelings in the U.S. about the benefits of following suit.

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Mon February 25, 2013

Twenty-year-old starts second business with purchase of Watertown commercial building

Matthew Turcotte works from his office in Clarkson University's small business incubator in downtown Potsdam.
Credit Joanna Richards

Many 16-year-olds might dream about starting their own business. But it takes a special kind of teenager to turn an operation launched in his parents' basement into a six-figure profit earner in just four years. After succeeding wildly with his web development and design company, North Shore Solutions, Clarkson University junior Matthew Turcotte, now age 20, is embarking on his second venture: commercial real estate.

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Wed February 13, 2013

Startups awaiting permission to "crowdfund" for new investors

Startup businesses in upstate New York, a region that sometimes struggles to attract big investors, are anxiously awaiting permission to begin soliciting funding from a new type of investor.

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Tue January 15, 2013
The Upstate Economy

New startup competition underway in Syracuse

Bea Arthur, founder of Pretty Padded Room, introduces herself on the first day of Startup Labs.
Ryan Delaney WRVO


Mon December 3, 2012

60 seconds on the clock, a pitch for co-founders

Participants pitch their ideas for startups with the hope of gaining teammates at Startup Weekend.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Microphone in hand, hopeful entrepreneurs began their pitches: a way to track when the next bus is coming, a more portable sailboat, a social network for food lovers.

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Wed November 21, 2012

Syracuse working to hit critical mass to grow startup community

Eric Hinman, a co-founder of Rounded Development, listens to presentations during the company's regular Friday Sparkbook session.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

It’s a Friday afternoon at the Technology Garden, a business incubator in Syracuse. The dozen or so staff members of software design company Rounded Development are sitting around on couches, chowing on Dinosaur Barbeque take-out and chatting up ideas for new products.

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Fri November 9, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Startup Weekend coming to Binghamton

Cris Olsen is a Binghamton-based entrepreneur and a mentor at Startup Weekend.
Matt Richmond WSKG

Chris Olsen is a budding entrepreneur. He runs an online marketing company in Binghamton called RS Webworks. It's the third company he's founded, and he's just 23-years-old.

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Sat November 3, 2012
The Upstate Economy

How upstate New York could build strong startup communities

The scene at a Startup Weekend in Pheonix, Ariz.
curtm95 via Flickr

It's not hard to think of the Silicon Valley, or maybe Boston and more recently New York City, when pondering the best place to be as a young entrepreneur. But cities all over the country are trying to become just as popular. Some are doing better than others.

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Tue October 23, 2012
The Upstate Economy

New Rochester entrepreneurship center to open next fall

The Rochester Savings Bank building dates from 1927 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972
dennieorson Creative Commons License

Senator Charles Schumer says a new center to open in Rochester will be a model for cities all over the state and the nation. He made the statement at the launch of the new center for urban entrepreneurship in the city.

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Fri September 28, 2012

Professor looks to brackets for new student startup competition

A Syracuse University professor is designing a national startup tournament for college students.
OnTask Flickr

Sean Branagan doesn't want to get any angry phone calls from the NCAA's lawyers for ripping off their idea, but he took inspiration from a certain national college basketball tournament, held every March, for a new student startup competition.

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Tue September 11, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Does government have a role in creating the next Willis Carrier?

Carl Schramm is the former president of the Kauffman Foundation and now a University Professor at Syracuse University.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

There is a political debate going on this fall about government's role in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation.

It comes at a time when upstate New York continues to try and reinvent its economy. Small business incubators and accelerator programs are cropping up. The state has also made a major investment in creating a nanotech industry.

"The narrative that government is important? I don’t believe it’s true," says Carl Schramm.

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Fri August 17, 2012

100 days in the books, startups emerge from Syracuse accelerator

Jason Scherr, CEO of Tivity, pitches his company's website at StartFast's Demo Day.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

One-hundred long days full of presentations, meetings with mentors and practicing investor pitches is all done.

The first-ever StartFast Venture Accelerator concluded Thursday morning with its Demo Day.

"Saying it was all hard would be an understatement," said Timothy Beckford, a founder of PadProof, a program to help professional photographers sell their pictures more easily. "It was a tremendous undertaking. We worked like crazy."

Nine companies entered StartFast back in May, but only eight made it through. The teams were given seed money, workspace and access to dozens of mentors.

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Thu August 16, 2012

Young entrepreneurs show off what they made in the "Sandbox"

Joshua Anderson, founder Uvalue, pitches his startup at the Student Sandbox Demo Day.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Thirty-four teams got coaching from 115 mentors for three months in the Student Sandbox. Fifteen of those teams made it to Demo Day.

The Sandbox, a startup business accelerator for college students and recent graduates, wrapped up for the summer on Thursday.

Company founders presented their ideas and business platforms to a packed room of fellow startups and potential investors.

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Tue July 31, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Vets head back to bootcamp, this time to learn entrepreneurship

Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, talks to participants of the 2011 Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.
Institute for Veterans with Military Families

Popping the occasional Tylenol and drinking plenty of Red Bull are how Tom Voss and David Kendrick get through the long days at the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV).

Voss, 28, from Wuawatosa, Wis. and Kendrick, 25, from Rochester, are both Army veterans hoping to start their own businesses.

For eight days at Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), Voss, Kendrick and 25 other veterans spend 14 hours a day in classes learning how to be entrepreneurs.

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Fri July 27, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Not your traditional summer camp: one for entrepreneurship

El-Java Abdul-Qadir, an instructor at the South Side Innovation Center, talks with students in the entrepreneurship boot camp.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Repetition is the name of the game to turn high schoolers into good entrepreneurs.

All this week, high school students taking part in an entrepreneurship boot camp at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) in Syracuse have been forced to practice pitching business ideas and cold-calling clients over-and-over.

"The practical piece is really key," says El-Java Abdul-Qadir, and instructor at SSIC.

This is the first year of the boot camp and twenty kids are taking part, but organizers are hoping it will get bigger next summer.

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Tue July 17, 2012

Drawing up their business was harder than they thought

GraFighters co-founder Eric Cleckner, right, shares a laugh with fellow entrepreneur and BrandYourself co-founder Patrick Ambron, left.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Four years ago, Erick Cleckner was sitting next to his friend, Dave Chenell, in a class at Syracuse University. But they weren't exactly paying attention.

"[We were] just drawing in our notebooks instead of taking notes," remembers Cleckner. "And we were arguing about whose drawing would win a fight."

Their debate about whose character would triumph didn't end when class was dismissed. Cleckner and Chenell started working on a digital battlefield where their sketches could actually engage in battle.

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Tue June 12, 2012

Young entrepreneurs: Out of the dorm room and into the incubator

Ariel Norling, the 20-year-old CEO of YouShouldDate.me, talks over ideas for her new online dating site.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Ariel Norling, 20, is from San Antonio, Texas. She has a lip ring and a spunky attitude to match. She majored in policy studies at Syracuse University.

Oh, and she's the CEO of her own online dating site called YouShouldDate.me. Tagline: "Online dating sucks, but it doesn't have to."

"We're trying to find the middle ground between 'casual whatever,' which generally just means people hooking up, and marriage," says Norling, describing her site.

She says she didn't really expect to become an entrepreneur - hence the social sciences degree. But last fall, after some convincing by a friend, Norling decided to pitch her idea at a local startup weekend.

The pitch worked. Folks liked it. And now she's spending the summer in Syracuse along with her two business partners in a startup incubator called the Student Sandbox.

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Sat June 9, 2012
Regional Coverage

INDUETIME: How a "Death App" won Rochester's Startup Weekend

The INDUETIME executive team. CEO Tohir Tillyaev, CMO Sophia Mitchell and CTO Tony Di Pietro.
Zack Seward WXXI

It started out as “The Death App.”

“I called it that because I couldn’t think of anything else,” says Tony Di Pietro.

Di Pietro’s “Death App” was the kernel of what became the winner of Rochester’s first Startup Weekend.

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Tue June 5, 2012

Student entrepreneurs spending summer in Syracuse "Sandbox"

Entrepreneur-in-Residence John Liddy, right, meets with one of the teams participating in the Syracuse Student Sandbox.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Instead of painting houses or mowing lawns, a group of college students in Syracuse is spending the summer launching companies.

The Student Sandbox incubator just got underway at the Syracuse Tech Garden. And participation is ballooning.

When the program started four years ago, just five teams took part. This year, there are 34 teams. The Tech Garden had to find overflow space to fit everybody.

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Mon April 2, 2012
The Upstate Economy

Young entrepreneurs pitch projects, for money and advice

Neil Lewis and his partner won $2,000 to develop their idea for a better camera mount for outdoor sports equipment.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Brian Page and Benjamin Onyejuruwa stood in front of the panel of judges with their hands full of groceries in an attempt to show how much easier their invention - an electronic ID and key programmed into a bracelet - could be.

The duo are roommates and freshman at Clarkson University. They made the trip down to Syracuse University on Friday to pitch QuickWhrist for a chance to win seed money from the university's Emerging Talk program.

Even as a freshman, Onyejuruwa already holds a patent for the technology.

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Wed December 14, 2011
The Upstate Economy

Making the business case for "doing good"

Liz Brenna, founder of Socially Good Business. Brenna helps existing companies bolster their image by undertaking "corporate social responsibility" initiatives.
Zack Seward/WXXI

From toilet paper to soda pop, more and more companies are testing whether "doing good" can be good for the bottom line.

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