Startup execs: Tech Garden expansion critical of Syracuse’s growth (Your Letters)

The following letters refer to the events reported here: “Leasehold dispute threatens proposed expansion of Syracuse’s Tech Garden at $ 16 million” (March 2, 2021):

TCGplayer: Startups are our lifeblood

To the editor:

TCGplayer has been fortunate to be part of a growing technology scene in central Syracuse, led and nurtured through The Tech Garden. These startups are the lifeblood of our emerging economy, and their existence enables us to reach out to technology and product candidates from across the country to consider moving to Syracuse as it shows them that we have a community of like-minded, hungry and growing business.

I believe that an expanded TTG would help strengthen the center as an epicenter of technology and further improve all our companies to expand their recruitment reach. This networking effect of start-ups and growth companies will build and continue to help increase more rentals and restaurant openings in the city center and improve our entire community work to live, work and play.

There can be no clearer evidence of what TTG gives to civil society than TCGplayer’s own accelerated growth. What started as 10 employees with myself and leadership who took lessons from mentors at TTG has grown to 350 employees. The community, encouraged by close ties to the next generation of entrepreneurs, has enabled us to continue to grow and consume almost 100,000 square meters of office space across the street from TTG, and I expect us to more than double in size and number of employees over the next few years and continues to give back to the TTG through support and mentorship to keep the flywheel spinning.

Chedy Hampson




Hack Upstate: Strategic partnerships are key

To the editor:

We offer our full support on behalf of the extension of the Tech Garden and the expansion plans for the facility.

Hack Upstate’s The mission is to promote Central and Upstate New York’s technology environment. Through this, we aim to contribute to Upstate New York’s technology sector and create a robust network of technologists and regional technology companies. Since 2013, we have successfully organized 15 half-yearly hackathons, five app challenges in collaboration with TO, AT & T: er Youth Code Project, Hack Mohawk Valley, and Careers in Code, a free coding bootcamp that teaches computer programming to women and minorities to fight poverty in central New York. We have built a growing network of thousands of technicians in Upstate New York and have played a role in facilitating dozens of workplaces.

We have been fortunate to work with a broad and diverse collection of partners over the years. Tech Garden has been an instrumental long-term partner and has supported our underlying mission since 2013.

Hack Upstate, Onondaga County and Alliance for Economic Integration, The Technology Garden and CenterState CEO successfully collaborated to launch Careers in Code 2019 and train the first group of 11 students. Seven out of 11 of our academics have received internships, beginners or consulting arrangements with local employers after a 180-day degree. With the skills our students have acquired, we have seen several start their own companies and become leaders in society. In addition, these academics live in Syracuse and contribute to the local economy.

We encourage the Syracuse Common Council to review ours result data and how the program changed our students’ lives. Tech Garden has generously provided space to host our weekend-long hackathons that bring together hundreds of technologists to collaborate on software projects and create potential new businesses in central New York. In addition, The Tech Garden provided classroom space for students and instructors in Code in Careers.

We are excited about how this expansion plan enables Hack Upstate and growing start-ups in Central NY to expand and scale their businesses. In particular, we look forward to increasing space for premises so that we can continue to train more individuals fighting poverty in central New York and create more jobs for program managers to support our program.

Hack Upstate and our continued success would not be possible without The Tech Gardens’ huge support since 2013.

We strongly believe that strategic partnerships and cooperation between the public and private technology sectors are crucial for the region’s growth. We are fortunate to have the right leadership to make a lasting impact on the region’s technological society and economy. Tech Garden is leading the way as Central NY’s premier technology incubator. We are excited to see how the expansion of Tech Garden will continue to support the startup community and help create hundreds of jobs for many years to come.

Jesse Peplinski


Hack Upstate


Promptous: Nurturing CNY’s “Single Biggest Opportunity”

To the editor:

I can not say with any confidence that Promptous would exist today without the support of Tech Garden. There is an incredible shortage of first mile funding in Upstate New York. The closest network of true angel investors is Buffalo. The “road” for technology contractors is cross-border opaque in the region. I graduated from Syracuse University and am moving to Los Angeles and joining Techstars and doing so on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list; to Miami and get their AI start funded to the millions of dollars by the age of 20; to New York City and build highly profitable gaming and esports companies. These are specific examples from the last two years. A common denominator among them is that they tried and failed to get local support to start from central New York. Some of them actually expressed the explicit desire to contribute, to be good citizens, but suffered from the lack of entrepreneurial support in the region.

Where these lost opportunities had to seek opportunities elsewhere, Promptous has been able to find our footing in the area due in particular to an organization. If Tech Garden had not entered the crucial moments of providing financing, introductions, hosting events, we would not have been able to launch our InsurTech SaaS product anywhere except at a major financial hub. Today, we are in the process of adding our team, hiring developers, salespeople, security staff, planning to offer customer success employees the chance to work at a high-growth start. Even if we have a long way to go to make these things happen, there really would have been no chance that we would establish ourselves here if not for Tech Garden.

Entrepreneurship and technological transformation is the single biggest opportunity for the region, and there is no real home for it in Syracuse as Tech Garden. In order to drive economic change, it is a must to enable Tech Garden to continue to function as a home for and continue to give life to other start-ups. To attract the talent that passes through the universities and Blackstone Launchpad, to expand the culture of entrepreneurship in the community, there can be no better use of funds than significant and repeated investments in Tech Garden. They have been fantastic partners for us, but they have been limited by their own resources. I grew up in the area, I would like to see it have access to the opportunities I have in front of me, I would like to see the city grow, I would like to see Tech Garden effectively utilized as the center of economic development it continues to be.

Phil McKnight

Co-founder & COO, fast


Digital Hyve: Success is based on mentorship

To the editor:

Jake Tanner, co-founder and head of DH, was the first non-Syracuse college student to be accepted into the sandbox program where he started his first marketing agency. From that spark was born Digital Hyve. Jeff Knauss, founder and CEO, met Jake (his future business partner at Digital Hyve) at Tech Garden in 2012.

Since then, Digital Hyve has grown from a 2-person start-up to a 54-person team with a 13,000-square-foot office and headquarters in central Syracuse. Our agency has scaled 13,000% over the past six years. Throughout, Digital Hyve has had a virtual office in Tech Garden to access its shared resources, as well as help mentor current tenants.

Having an expanded Tech Garden in Syracuse is such an important need for start-ups. Being able to work with like-minded owners and employees in similarly fast-paced environments and gain practical mentorship with those who have conquered many of the scaling challenges they will face is crucial to their success and success at the center.

Digital Hyve continues to expand, even throughout the pandemic, helping to support the center by hiring local talent, retaining smart college minds and boomeranging back talented creative minds from major cities like Boston and Philadelphia. Our crew gives back to local non-profit organizations and supports local businesses and restaurants. We is Syracuse and I could not imagine a better allocation of resources than expanding the Tech Garden and creating fertile ground for new businesses to grow in central New York.

Jeff Knauss

CEO and co-founder

Digital Hyve


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