Upstate Capital Announces Winners of the 2022 Annual Awards

December 15, 2022

Press Contact: Bailey Burke
(845) 204-8090

ROCHESTER, NY: Upstate Capital hosted its 7th Annual Awards Celebration to celebrate the investment ecosystem across Upstate New York. The marquee event highlights the most interesting deals and most active dealmakers across the State in seed, venture, private equity and corporate finance. Over 100 companies and individuals were nominated from all across New York State for awards that recognize individuals and teams that build businesses and conduct transactions. At the December 7, 2022 event at Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, the following winners were announced:

Seed Investment of the Year
The Seed Nominees raised between $500,000 and $5M in early-stage funding in the past 12 months.
The Seed Deal of the Year Winner is CAHill Tech. The Clarence, NY-based company, led by Carley Hill, Co-Founder and CEO, is a platform for safety and training for the construction industry. The company raised $1M in 2022 from undisclosed investors. The seed round raised is accelerating hiring and product development to provide more trades-based training to more people globally. With new strategic investors, they are localizing their flagship product, aQuiRe, in Spanish. They are delivering on their mission of democratizing access to training for people seeking employment in the trades.

Venture Investment of the Year
The Venture Nominees raised between $5M and $20M in equity investment in the past 12 months. The Venture Deal of the Year Winner is Ursa Space Systems. The Ithaca, NY-based company raised $20M in a Series C investment led by Dorilton Capital, with Razors Edge Ventures, RRE Ventures, Paladin Capital Group, NY Ventures, Citi Group, and Gaingels participating. Julie Baker is the company’s COO & Co-founder. Ursa Space Systems provides decision makers with geospatial data and analytics services from a virtual constellation of over 200 earth observation satellites. The investment enabled Ursa Space to continue operations to grow the team to develop improvements in scalability and automation and support important missions where geospatial information is of value, such as the crisis in Ukraine, helping to save many lives.

Growth Investment of the Year
The Growth Nominees raised more than $20M in equity investment in the past 12 months. The Growth Deal of the Year Winner is Viridi Parente. Viridi, based in Buffalo, NY, designs and builds fail-safe battery systems that are redefining energy storage and powering the transition to renewable energy. Jon Williams is the company’s Founder, Chief Executive Officer, & Chairman. The company raised its seed capital locally prior to this raising this round, from investors including the Western NY Impact Investment Fund.

Private Equity Deal of the Year
The Private Equity Nominees had a significant private equity transaction in the past 12 months. The Private Equity Deal of the Year Winner is EWASTE+. Based in Victor, NY, the company was acquired by Sidereal Capital Group. They provided electronic recycling and data destruction services. EWASTE+ facilities in Rochester, Albany, and New York City have diverted over 200 million pounds of electronic waste from disposal in landfills – all while rigorously adhering to federal and state regulatory compliance.

Exit of the Year
The Exit Nominees had a significant transaction in the last 12 months where a VC/PE-backed founder based in Upstate NY has sold substantially the entire business to a strategic or financial buyer and where substantial value was created and generated for the company’s owners and investors. The Exit of the Year Winner is TCGplayer. The Syracuse, NY-based company made a deal to get acquired by eBay for $295M. TCGplayer is committed to the collectibles community — creating tools and services that empower hobbyists and retailers to connect online and within their local communities to improve the exchange of the products and content they love most. TCGplayer will continue to operate autonomously as one of the largest online marketplaces for trading card games while benefiting from eBay’s decades of industry experience, powerful technology solutions, a shared vision, common core values, and a deep commitment to the collectibles community. Chedy Hampson, the company’s CEO, shared with us that as part of this transaction, all 688 TCGplayers — hourly and salaried — were able to share in the financial rewards of this deal due to their employee stock option plan.

Dealmaker of the Year
The Dealmaker of the Year award is given annually to a person in the Upstate NY ecosystem who has demonstrated commitment to the region, to Upstate Capital, while being very active in the investment community. The 2022 Dealmaker of the Year Winner is Jennifer Tegan. Jennifer is a former president of the Upstate Capital board of directors and after nearly 20 years with Cayuga Venture Fund, she was selected to lead NY Ventures, Empire State Development’s direct investment program.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Denny DeLeo is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for his contributions to the Upstate business community. Denny’s illustrious career has spanned creating impact in many fields from law to venture capital and innovative technology. In 2003, he helped to start the Upstate Capital Association of NY to attract more venture capital to the region. His work at Kodak, Trillium, the Venture Jobs Foundation, Impellent Ventures, and now Innovation Semiconductor have contributed both to investment in Upstate NY startups and technology advancement globally.
The Upstate Capital Association of New York hosts events connecting the investment community across New York. As a member-driven non-profit, our mission is to increase access to capital for companies and deal flow for investors across Upstate New York. Our audience includes investors, advisors, entrepreneurs and people generally interested in innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the region.
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