Why ROC: Rochester Angel Network


We discussed Rochester based Splyce and the Rochester Angel Network in our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation Wednesday on News 8 at Sunrise.

As part of our look at Rochester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we spoke with Jim Senall, President of High Tech Rochester and the Rochester Angel Network, and Marty Strenczewilk, CEO and President of Splyce.

Senall explained how the Rochester Angel Network was formed.  “The Angel Network is a group of individuals who are interested in investing in early stage startup companies,” he said. “It started back in 2005 with a small group that just wanted to get together to see what kind of startups were in town. That evolved over time. We formed a fund in 2013. That fund is now fully invested in 14 companies in the portfolio, Splyce being one of them. We’re in the process of raising our second fund, which will hopefully be bigger, better, and invest in a lot more companies here in town.”

Splyce has benefited from the financial support of the Rochester Angel Network.  “Believe it or not, I pay people to play video games for a living, and I do give them a salary, as crazy as that sounds,” said Strenczewilk. “Esports, as it’s known, or better, competitive video games and we’re filling arenas around the world, playing for millions of dollars in prize money. The largest prize poll last year I believe was 22 million dollars, and Splyce is one of the largest world class teams based here in North America. We have 40 players in 9 different titles playing across North America, Latin America, Europe, and South Korea. And we’re based here in Rochester. I myself was born here in Hilton, and we got connected through funding here locally, as you mentioned. A big avenue for us was both the Rochester Angel Network, and Excell Partners here locally in Rochester, who helped us be able to grow in a way that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Strenczewilk is also known by another name.  “I’m known as ‘lazerchicken,'” he said. “In this game called World of Warcraft, I used to play this character that looks like a giant chicken, and shoots lasers. As ridiculous as that sounds! But, in gaming, everyone has an alias that you go by, or your gamer tag. I’m actually more well known by that than my actual name at this point, which is kind of funny when you get people calling you lazerchicken! It took me a long time to get used to that in person, you know?”

Splyce recently announced a new strategic partnership with Delaware North, which is a major player in several sectors of the sports universe. Delaware North is one of the leading food service and retail management companies at stadiums, arenas and ballparks.  Strenczewilk believes Delaware North’s sports knowledge and infrastructure can accelerate Splyce’s growth.  Click this link to learn more about the partnership, https://splyce.gg/content/604/delaware-north-makes-strategic-partnership-with-esports-team-splyce.

When it comes to the Rochester Angel Network, Senall said the Rochester community has had a long history of entrepreneurship. “We obviously go back to the George Eastman days, but there’s so much going on with early stage technology-based start up companies,” he noted. “There’s new funding sources that have popped up. There’s competitions.  HTR is in the middle of building a new facility right downtown in the Innovation Zone to be a hub of all this activity, and so we’re seeing it crop up in all different spaces. But you never know what’s going to come, so professional gaming, electronic gaming, no one would say, that’s the future of Rochester, but here’s this great company who is going to be more like that, so you don’t know where it’s going to come from, you just have to support the whole ecosystem.”

To learn more about the Rochester Angel Network, click here.

To learn more about High Tech Rochester, click here.

To learn more about Splyce, click here.

To learn more about Greater Rochester Enterprise, click here.


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