Recap: Investor Connections for Cleantech Startups

On August 1, Upstate Capital hosted an event sponsored by the Southern Tier Clean Energy Incubator, Corning and Cayuga Venture Fund to connect investors to clean energy startups in the Upstate New York ecosystem. The event rolled out in two parts: a private, invite-only speed networking between companies and investors, and a public networking event that included a panel conversation with Arun Gupta, founder & CEO at Skyven Technologies and Mike Oshetski, CEO and co-founder of Micatu Inc, both past winners of 76 West’s $1M top prize. The event was hosted at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.

Just after the conclusion of the 76West Clean Energy Pitch Competition, the semi-finalists and selected cleantech companies from across Upstate New York gathered at REV to meet with nearly 20 pre-selected cleantech investors from across the United States as well as NYSERDA program managers. The teams and investors took turns meeting each other in 4-minute intervals. The goal was to determine interests on both sides for additional meetings.  One investor reported that there were “10 very solid companies, 3-4 to follow and 1-2 to engage in deeper discussions about investment”.

Following the 1:1 structured networking, the companies and investors joined mentors, business leaders, support organization representatives and others involved in cleantech for the main Upstate Capital event.

Rami Katz introduced Upstate Capital to the crowd of over 125 people. In addition to being a member of the Upstate Capital Board of Directors, Rami is COO of Excell Partners, a Rochester-based VC fund that invests in seed and early stage high-tech startups. Rami invited Ken Rother, Director of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, to talk about the Ithaca-based business incubator and workspace. As a “home-base” for startups in the community (in many fields, including cleantech), Rev provides a valuable startup resource in the Southern Tier.

Finally, Upstate Capital’s Executive Director, Noa Simons, moderated a panel with the last two 76 West $1,000,000 grand prize winners: Arun Gupta of Skyven Technologies and Mike Oshetski of Micatu, Inc. Skyven uses a patented solar thermal process to produce industrial heat up to 400° F, and Micatu Inc. provides optical sensors for smart grid monitoring. Gupta and Oshetski talked about starting and growing their companies, and the lessons learned along the way. With an audience full of early-stage hopefuls, the experienced entrepreneurs gave their best advice. Gupta encouraged fellow cleantech pioneers to keep fighting the good fight, and committed to cleantech not only being the way of the future, but what is necessary for the health and well-being of the environment. Oshetski agreed, and added that New York is particularly equipped with technology, drive and power to be the leaders in a revolution of change.

A special congratulations to Jose Lozano of Biological Energy. He won the charity raffle and $100 donation will be made in his name to the charity of his choosing: The Food Bank of the Southern Tier.


Written by Bailey Burke
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