This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recognized Denny Deleo. Denny has had a diverse career that has spanned creating impact in many fields from law to venture capital and innovative technology. A native of Webster, Denny has centered his career on making Rochester and Western New York an amazing place to start and grow businesses for over half a century.
His career began at Eastman Kodak as an IP lawyer where he would go on to thrive spending a decade as a corporate lawyer and eventually on Kodak Chairman’s staff. As a newly appointed Vice President and Director, Denny managed corporate business interests in technology-related transactions gaining visibility within leadership. He would then be appointed as Vice President and General Manager of both the Bioscience and Emerging Businesses and the Image Acquisition Products, and also served as President and CEO of Eastman Technology, Inc., a Kodak subsidiary formed to launch businesses based on leading-edge technologies. This role would prove especially influential to him after he took an early retirement from Kodak.
Energized by his experience with new venture creation and passionate about the future of our region, Denny went on, in 1997, to co-found Trillium Group, a Rochester-based regional venture capital and private equity firm. Nearly no venture existed locally at this time and Denny spent years evangelizing the opportunities for startups. A trailblazer in capital formation for the region, Trillium raised and deployed $100 million across three funds.
During this tenure he also helped start other support organizations for the investment community, including the Upstate Capital Association in 2003, where he served on the board through 2020.
As Trillium started to slow down, Denny focused on his next endeavor, launching the Venture Jobs Foundation in 2015. A nonprofit, The Venture Jobs Foundation was formed to invest in businesses bringing new jobs to Rochester’s underserved neighborhoods. It has become a respected community partner in revitalizing local neighborhoods and continues to grow next generation leadership.
In early 2019 Impellent Ventures was formed with the premise that innovation was going to be core to Upstate New York cities’ continued growth and that the region needed more capital to create a robust regional economy by retaining talent. During this time, he co-founded Innovation Semiconductor where he continues to be at the forefront of technology and leadership.
We thank him for all he has done for Upstate Capital over the past twenty years and all he has done for Rochester for the past 80+ years.