Launch NY’s COO and Fund Manager Chosen as Investor of the Year by Upstate Capital Association

Entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, & dealmakers gathered to celebrate Lindsay Karas Stencel, accomplished leader of the most active seed fund in Upstate NY


Buffalo, N.Y., December 5, 2019Lindsay Karas Stencel, Chief Operating Officer and Fund Manager at Launch New York (Launch NY), Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide pro bono mentoring and capital access to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, has won the Investor of the Year Award from Upstate Capital Association of New York (UCA).


UCA hosted their 2019 Annual Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, December 4 in Rochester, N.Y. to celebrate the state’s investment ecosystem and highlight the most prominent deals and active dealmakers in seed, venture, private equity, and corporate finance. UCA is a nonprofit that helps increase access to capital for companies and deal flow for investors by connecting providers, lenders, professional advisors, entrepreneurs, and company executives who are making investments in companies across the state. This is the second year in a row that Stencel has received an award by UCA. In 2018, she was awarded the Early Stage Dealmaker of the Year award.


This regional recognition for Stencel underscores her deep knowledge of the seed funding structure and investment activity in the region. Since joining Launch NY in 2016, she’s helped to grow its Seed Fund to become the most active in Upstate New York with a close rate of two to three investments per month. In 2019, Stencel closed 42 investments through the Launch NY nonprofit Seed Fund and the new for profit Limited Partner Fund. Launch NY’s 49 portfolio companies have raised $26MM on the $2.3MM invested by Launch NY, with nearly 140 unique co-investors. With these impressive results, Stencel clearly embraces the region’s startup deal flow, while most investors and funds locally and nationally steer their attention to companies that are more developed.


“Lindsay’s skill and breakneck speed in closing on investments in our client companies really spawned our introduction of the Invest Local Financing Platform. Her work is the catalyst for providing investors a chance to join us in growing startup in our own backyard across all industry sectors,” said Dr. Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY. “I congratulate Lindsay on winning this prestigious award, recognizing her best-in-class due diligence, deal leadership, and portfolio management that is finally moving the needle on access to seed capital in our region.”


Stencel has been involved in over 1,200 seed and early stage company investments through both her previous work and currently through the Launch NY Seed Fund. Prior to Launch NY, Stencel served as partner and chief legal counsel for an early stage venture fund in Ohio, where she focused on deal structuring, compliance, and portfolio management. In addition to her Launch NY duties, Stencel has her own law firm, where she provides legal counsel for Ohio and Michigan-based small businesses ranging from the start-up stage to $20M/year. She’s also been a renowned speaker at several national and regional events promoting the Upstate New York region to investors across the country. Stencel earned her JD and MBA from Ohio State University, where she’s also an adjunct professor teaching venture capital law. She received her undergraduate degree from Canisius College.


In September 2019, Stencel was chosen as the 2019 Community Catalyst by Upstate Venture Connect among 57 statewide nominees. Nominees must have demonstrated they excel at and have achieved lasting impact with organizing programs to bring together diverse startup ecosystem players in a local community and/or increasing the amount of capital and number of active early stage investors in that community.


“With less than 10% of managing partners being women, it is an honor to win this award. We are demonstrating to the rest of the world that this region has fantastic opportunities for investors. Being able to support and invest in the next wave of founders and inspiring more women to pursue careers in venture capital is a privilege,” said Stencel.


“The Upstate Capital Association is proud to celebrate Lindsay’s achievement and dedication to the Upstate New York investment community,” said Noa Simons, Upstate Capital Association’s Executive Director. “She is a role model for this community and continues to prove that our region is ripe with great investment opportunities. She is truly a knowledgeable investor who not only gets the risk but accepts it and works with entrepreneurs to accelerate growth.”


For more information about Launch NY, its programs and other entrepreneurial opportunities, visit its newly-redesigned website at, and follow Launch NY on its Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.