May 2019

From My Desk – As the Executive Director of Upstate Capital, I have a unique vantage point within the Upstate New York investment ecosystem. I’m excited to share my passion for investment, entrepreneurship and connections to the region with you.

We’re nearly through the Merry Merry Month of May! We hosted nearly 600 people at E^3 & NYBPC at the end of April in Albany (our biggest event EVER), and rolled right into a full-court press for our inaugural Buffalo PE Summit last week. Event season is in full swing here at Upstate Capital.

Big Deal – Manischewitz Wine, based in Canandaigua NY, was acquired by Constellation Brands last month for an undisclosed sum. Now, in the landscape where we saw a $3B+ acquisition of a semiconductor company in Saratoga County  and a leveraged buyout of Sweeteners Plus by one of Upstate Capital’s 2019 Gold sponsors, Graycliff Partners in the past couple of weeks, this might not sound big.

But saying “Manischewitz” is like saying “Kleenex”, an eponym where the brand defines the product, and it seems like a big deal because of the nostalgia that’s elicited for me. It was the too-sweet wine I could find buried in my parents’ kitchen cabinet, and is symbolic of my coming of age when I learned what beverages containing alcohol are.  It’s also a nice lead-in to our 2nd Annual Future of Food Conference where Constellations Brands venture investor Jeremy Hawk is planning to speak at the DeFisher Fruit Farm (also known as Rootstock Ciderworks) on September 26.

Upcoming Events – Speaking of events, we’ve got Upstate Down in NYC on June 6 featuring startups from upstate NY connecting with investors in NYC, June 12 is taking us back to Rochester for Medtech Investor Connections, and we’re lining up programming for our 12th Annual Saratoga Forum on August 7-8, focused on bringing CEOs, business owners and C-suite executives together for knowledge and connections around navigating capital for strategic growth and change.

And, we’re embarking on more evolution at Upstate Capital!  I’m pleased to share that 29 Design Studio is starting to do marketing for us (Maureen and I hit it off at last year’s inaugural Future of Food event) and that we’re headed into strategic planning this summer.  We are getting ready to do some deep and creative thinking about the future direction of Upstate Capital as a professional membership association, the new Capital Foundation of New York that we formed last year to support the NYBPC.  We want to look at how we can best support building great companies and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem across New York in the years to come. Have ideas for us? Don’t be shy.

Private Equity/M&A
Who knew that rep and warranty insurance could be so interesting?  I learned a lot about how the PE industry has evolved over the past 10 years in managing transactional risks. This article isn’t quite as dynamic as Dave Helgerson and Ryan Sakamoto were on May 15, but it covers a few of the basics.

Venture Capital
Raising venture capital funds in Upstate NY is not an easy feat, and I’m excited that Upstate Capital Board Member Somak Chattopadhyay announced Armory Square Ventures‘ $31MM new fund out of Syracuse a few weeks ago.

Angel Investing
Through both my work running the Hudson Valley Startup Fund and working with startups across the state, cultivating the angel investment community is important. Check out Upstate Capital’s new Resources for Angel Investors where accredited investors can sign up to share deals across the region.

Speaking of angels – Angela Lee, our lead-off speaker at E^3 last month, asked me to share that her organization, 37 Angels, is opening up their 8-week online Investing Bootcamp (May 29-July 19) to angels in the Upstate Capital network. This rigorous curriculum teaches you how to source, select, diligence, value and invest in startups through workshops and hands-on application. The online course is designed for busy people! Join the program to learn startup investing through a proven practical curriculum in the comfort of your home. You’ll receive 1:1 mentorship in an intimate setting, gain access to high-quality deal flow and will apply what you learn immediately to real startups! You must apply for the bootcamp using this link, and please note that this program is by invitation only. If you can’t make this one, their next in-person bootcamp is Sep 20-21 in NYC. Please reach out to with any questions.

CEO Corner
If you’re a CEO or C-suite executive, and don’t already belong to an Executive Peer Group, let me recommend it. In this article, Steven Wasser talks about the benefits. Since forming Upstate Capital’s Executive Peer Group a year ago, I have learned a great deal about situational leadership, management styles and personalities, and have been able to both give and receive valuable advice for my own personal growth.

I travel with my dog, Dobby, when it works schedule-wise, and last week we got to tour the RIT campus on our morning walk!

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Noa Simons
Executive Director
Upstate Capital Association of New York