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Upstate Venture Connect launches entrepreneurial-leadership network

By Eric Reinhardt


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse–based Upstate Venture Connect (UVC) has launched UNY50, which it describes as an “ambitious entrepreneurial-leadership program.”


UVC announced the program in a news release distributed on Thursday.


So far, 27 business leaders have joined the “invitation-only” network, UVC said in the news release.


They represent fields such as software development, advanced manufacturing, and medical technology.


The business leaders include Nasir Ali, co-founder and CEO of Upstate Venture Connect; Chuck Stormon, CEO of RushTera, a media file-sharing company, and managing director of Syracuse–based StartFast Venture Accelerator, a mentorship-driven startup accelerator; and Frank DuRoss, co-founder of the Utica Comets minor-league hockey team and executive director of institutional advancement at Mohawk Valley Community College, according to his LinkedIn page.


In addition to mentoring, UNY50 network creates collaboration opportunities, potential investment deal flow and exposure to high growth entrepreneurs across Upstate NY.


UNY50 members “engage in peer-to-peer collaboration, gain access to curated deals and mentoring opportunities, and enjoy visibility across our regions entrepreneurial community,” according to the UVC news release.


A member-selected steering committee leads UNY50, which Upstate Venture Connect supports.


“The goal of this leadership network is to recruit 50 influential business leaders across Upstate who will empower entrepreneurs with mentorship and provide guidance on how they can access the abundant resources available to them,” David Dussault, chair of the UNY50 steering committee, said in the news release. “Our region has emerged as an attractive location for startups to drop their anchor, and as successful entrepreneurs ourselves, we want to pay it forward.”


Dussault is the managing and founding partner of the Albany–based Dussault Group, an “investment partnership that makes hands-on, active investments into industrial operating companies, high tech and non-high tech start-ups and real estate,” according to Dussault’s LinkedIn page.


The nonprofit Upstate Venture Connect works to create “high tech, high growth, private-capital backed” companies in upstate New York.


UVC has “experienced” entrepreneurs who provide mentoring, angel investing and other leadership roles that “help grow new economy companies” in the Upstate region, according to its news release.


Contact Reinhardt at

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