43North – A $5mm Business Plan Competition

The folks in Buffalo NY are serious. Last year I went up to Buffalo to visit a new business incubator and was impressed by the entrepreneurial talent and community engagement I saw. But they aren’t stopping there.

They have launched 43North, which is the largest (in terms of prizes) business plan competition in history. Here are the details:

With $5 million in cash prizes, including a top award of $1 million, six $500,000 awards and four $250,000 awards, 43North is setting out to turn the best new business ideas from around the globe into reality.

Winners also receive free incubator space for a year, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs.

43North is open to applicants in any industry, with the exception of retail and hospitality, and winners agree to operate their business in the Buffalo, New York for a minimum of one year.

The competition includes three rounds of judging:
1.  Feb 5, 2014 to May 31, 2014: 43North accepts applications via 43North.org – apply here.
2.  Sept 15, 2014 to Sept 20, 2014: Semifinalists present their plans via webinar
3.  Oct 27, 2014 to Oct 31, 2014: Finalists present their plans during a weeklong series of events in Buffalo, NY

This ambitious initiative is part of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s historic pledge of $1 billion in state funding to ignite economic growth in the Buffalo, New York region.

I know the people behind this effort, Jordan Levy and Ron Schreiber. They are serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalist and are the real deal. The mentorship and coaching part of this program will be as important as the money. But getting $1mm for free to start your business isn’t a bad deal either.

If you want more information, the FAQ is here. If you want to apply, go here.