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.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    is Buffalo a depressed area?

    1. fredwilson

      In 1900, Buffalo was the 8th largest city in the US, and had an economy that was the envy of most of the country. it led in transportation and manufacturing. with the slow decline of the midwest manufacturing base, Buffalo has fallen on hard times. it’s not as bad as Detroit, but it has a number of challenges. fortunately it has a great University and an engaged community that is working hard to get things going in the right direction. i am cautiously optimistic about Buffalo.

      1. JamesHRH

        And a potentially beautiful waterfront, which your buddy Jordan is also working to create.He is quite the cat it appears.

        1. fredwilson

          He’s a whirlwind of energy

      2. Steve Poland

        We are about 4 physical years into the “20 year cycle” as Brad Feld describes for startup communities, but are still very young. Our tech scene has organized with Buffalo Open Coffee Club email list (400+ members). Instead of 4 meetups a month, there is about 20– any night of the week. We have held 3 Startup Weekends in less than 1.5 years with combined attendance exceeding 300, and our fourth one is coming in October. Z80 Labs has $5M it is investing in startups, led by Jordan Levy (SoftBank Capital) and his partner Ron S.Buffalo is full of heart. A decent sized town with small town values. We have amazing food, music and people. I consider us a smaller Austin. We are passionate about our Sabres and Bills, the city (and our teams) are underdogs and we are all believers! An hour direct flight from NYC, Boston and others, I would love to see our city become an expansion town for businesses as telecommuting becomes even more of a standard in the next twenty years.

        1. fredwilson

          Great articulation of the Buffalo startup scene

        2. pointsnfigures

          with you in spirit.

        3. Terry Martin

          I wholeheartedly agree with Steve. Frankly, I love Buffalo and look forward to helping the tech scene grow.

        4. gbattle

          You are making me miss home Steve. I’d move back in a heartbeat if I had the support. I *love* Buffalo. Let me know how I can help.As for the website, I’d stress the Elmwood area, waterfront growth, proximity to Canada, stones throw from Toronto, Niagara on the Lake, etc. The fact that you haven’t mentioned the huge resources in the Roswell corridor is almost criminal!

    2. JimHirshfield

      Yer nawt from around here, are ya?

      1. jason wright

        you got me. yes, i have to admit to it, i’m one of those, a foreigner, from a far off place, where things are a bit different.i’ve heard of Buffalo, a ‘blue collar’ sort of a place, as you might say, …maybe. not quite San Francisco, or is it?

      2. LE

        All it takes is a search to find this:The loss of traditional jobs in manufacturing, rapid suburbanization and high costs of labor have led to economic decline, making Buffalo one of the poorest among U.S. cities with populations of more than 250,000 people. An estimated 28.7–29.9% of Buffalo residents live below the poverty line, behind either only Detroit,[80] or only Detroit and Cleveland.[81] Buffalo’s median household income of $27,850 is third-lowest among large cities, behind only Miami and Cleveland; however the median household income for the metropolitan area is $57,000.[82Buffalo faces issues with vacant and abandoned houses, as the city ranks second only to St. Louis on the list of American cities with the most vacant properties per capita. ]So 30% of the residents live below the poverty line.At least if you live in Camden or Newark you are really close to Philly, NY and DC. Right next to I-95.But you don’t have to live in Camden or Newark you could work in Camden and live in dozens of nice places nearby.

    3. Steve Poland

      Washington Post considers Buffalo “in”. This is a great article talking about our town objectively from someone that doesn’t live in Buffalo http://www.hipstercrite.com

  2. William Mougayar

    They were at Startup Grind last week in Toronto. They had sponsored Scoble’s event. I was there & they described the program, mentioned your name, and were seriously targeting Toronto & Waterloo companies.

    1. fredwilson

      as they should be. moving to Buffalo for year from Toronto for $1mm is a no brainer!

      1. JimHirshfield

        And the weather’s SO much warmer @wmoug:disqus

      2. JamesHRH

        They should add some sort of immigration angle.A young person with entrepreneurial ambition would find access to the US market very attractive.

        1. AJP

          The immigration angle is square in the sights of 43North. Given Buffalo is a border city, there is solid experience dealing with this issue. We are targeting all types of opportunities, apart from retail and hospitality, at all stages, anywhere in the world.

          1. JamesHRH

            I realize it is impossible, but something like:- stay in Buffalo 3 years- create 10 jobs- instant Green card

        2. fredwilson


          1. LE

            That’s really the key to this because they don’t have any bias against a particular part of our country. To them the streets everywhere are paved with gold. Just like any city in NY State seems better to me that a typical city in PA (where I grew up). It’s either neutral or positive but generally not negative. Say “Allentown” to me and I think “boring”. Say “Lancaster” and I think of the Amish. Say “Harrisburgh” and I think of the state capital.Found this out with my daughters and college. A strong bias to attend a university somewhere that was not in the same state they grew up in.

      3. William Mougayar


  3. awaldstein

    Wonder about the prejudice (generally) against hybrid retail as a category.Few except restaurants sell only from one spot, but hybrid models with footprints on the street are both business and brand wise, a smart and growing model.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Likely retail and hospitality are two areas that the organizers don’t have any experience in. Could also be that the Buffalo area doesn’t need any more shops, restaurants, or hotels. Those are also not businesses that are traditionally incubated.

      1. awaldstein

        I’m sure your right that these hybrid models are not traditionally done–overdue time to change.I’m skeptical that any stagnating city doesn’t need shops and destinations to drive growth.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Retail challenge that’s hard to compete with: big box stores and Amazon. Maybe that has something to do with it.They may also want to revise the economy with higher paying jobs before investing in restaurants and boutiques. Who’s gonna shop there?

          1. awaldstein

            Dunno–If that was the case there would be storefronts available for pennies all over Manhattan and Brooklyn.Cities exist on the street. Solutions that don’t provide commerce to that dense population simply are half measures.And yes–I have no solution to offer.

  4. JimHirshfield

    $1M for free? Or for equity?

    1. fredwilson

      i believe it is free. i may be wrong though

      1. Steve Poland

        5% equity, which is simply to help fund the competition for the future. The competition applies to all existing businesses as well — thus any TechStars or YC-graduated companies, or any other existing startups.Not necessarily tech startups either – biotech, etc can enter.

        1. Josh Maher

          5% is still reasonable for $1m… although does that valuation influence the decision on which company wins?

          1. Steve Poland

            I don’t believe so. Unsure the specifics, but if you win a $250K prize, it’s 5% as well. The judges will be unbiased.

          2. Josh Maher

            Pretty big valuation differences when the companies may be closer to equal in terms of a real valuation

          3. Steve Poland

            Agreed. I think if the prize were convertible debt it’d be a non-topic, but then it’d likely end up being a bigger equity %. But if you’re the startup and you need the $, wouldn’t you take that?Steve Polandhttp://stevepoland.com/about

          4. AJP

            11 prizes, with seven being $500K to $1M. That means probability of valuation of $10M to $20M on the basic math of 5% for those funds. Sure at $250K valuation would be $5M but the probability is on the side of being at the higher ends of valuation and, let’s be real, most companies will fall well within the range of sub $10M and even $5M. This is inexpensive and, relatively speaking, easy capital. Plus, free space for a year, real mentorship (business, technical, and finance), and zero corporate/personal NY state taxes while in the tax free zone. It’s a good deal, regardless of what someone believes their valuation might be.

  5. JimHirshfield

    What if the successful ones move to Silicon Valley or NYC after a year? That’s not good for Buffalo. I guess they’re taking their chances and hope the winners stick around and build a vibrant company.

    1. AJP

      Plan is to provide all the reasons they should stay for the success of their business and the quality of life. However, if they have to leave to survive (e.g. raise large follow on) then they can do what is best for the long-term success of their company.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Thanks for chiming in. Great of you to create the environment that would want them to stay.

    2. fredwilson

      Its like Teach For America. They won’t get all of them but they will get some

    3. Matt Zagaja

      We have this problem in Connecticut (see i.e. http://www.newhavenindepend…In New Haven Connecticut has a couple strong anchor startups and tech companies (including SeeClickFix) that do much for the tech and startup community. Lots of Yalies want to move to Boston, NYC, SV, etc. but the state has been working hard to create community and co-working space to make them feel welcome, at least in early stage. It’d just be nice if more investors were willing to let companies stay in CT and/or the people with money in Fairfield county got more involved. There are some good groups of investors through the CT Angel Forum, etc. but if you’re not in that pipeline your options for getting funded are pretty small.

      1. JimHirshfield

        I was born and bred in New Haven. Great to see this developing there, despite the challenges you highlight.

    4. LE

      What if the successful ones move to Silicon Valley or NYC after a year? That’s not good for Buffalo.Well first it should be sure longer than one year.But putting on my “game the system” hat there is nothing to prevent someone from doing a startup that is “located” in Buffalo (even for longer than a year) but starts to operate and hire outside of Buffalo. After all this isn’t like a KOZ (opportunity zone) where a factory is being built or a certain number of jobs need to be filled.Best way to keep people there might be to make sure they get into relationships locally (meet a girl or guy) and want to stay there. That assumes of course the the local guy/gal isn’t like Paula in “An Officer and a Gentlemen” wanting to meet a naval aviator to get out of the small town and see the world (I’m actually serious about this..) To wit “if I wanted to marry a townie I would be already married”.

      1. JimHirshfield

        So you’re saying Tinder will revive the economy in Buffalo?

        1. LE

          Either Tinder or they need to do mixers.This is in spanish but makes my point:http://www.youtube.com/watc…I can’t find the clip of the mixers but this one includes the part where they warn about the local girls wanting to leave town with an aviator:http://www.youtube.com/watc

      2. JamesHRH

        THere are a lot of Paulas in the Rust Belt.

  6. Jordy Levy

    Thanks for the help Fred. We are willing to take our chances but worst case we kickstarted companies and fostered the community in buffalo. We actually will take a small slug of equity which will be used to fund completions in the future should it ever turn into anything, but everything else is free. We will also house them in a NY Tax Free Zone, so ZERO state income tax or corporate tax for ten years if they stay in a zone after .

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for stopping by and clarifying that Jordy. This is a great thing you are doing for Buffalo

    2. cdlingHQ

      Jordy – Andrew did an amazing job of introducing the Toronto startup community to 43North last week at our Startup Grind Fireside Chat with Robert Scoble. It was our biggest event ever.As I wrote in HuffingtonPost, before we were preoccupied with our crack smoking Mayor, developing the “Golden Horseshoe” economic mega-region was the kind of discourse we expected. Free working permits cross border and high speed rail links were the big ideas. http://www.huffingtonpost.c…Now, 43North is the only effort that I see on the horizon but I hope that there is more going on that I am simply not aware of.Congrats on the leadership. Startup Grind Toronto is grateful to have 43North’s support.

    3. Elia Freedman

      I’ll be very curious to see what stage companies you get in relation to the incubator. I’m seeing this in other pitch competitions where the more money offered the later the stage companies who come to pitch, squeezing out the early stage businesses who most need the guidance.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Well of course that will happen. If you have had more time to refine your plan and evolve it, then you’ll have a more clear path and be able to identify its values more accurately.

        1. Elia Freedman

          I’m just saying that that is fine if that is what the incubator wants. But if they are focusing on seed stage companies then those seed stage companies will be squeezed out by later stage companies because of the money offered. Those later stage companies will naturally win the money as people are more comfortable the more proven the business.I’m seeing this locally, even for smaller amounts of money. The money and guidance is best geared to seed stage but the “winners” are always A or B round, at least, as the investment feels much more secure to those voting/guiding the dollars.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I guess the people giving the money away – apparently taking unknown equity – are then incentivized to give it to who they think will more likely succeed to try to lessen risk of getting no returns.

          2. Elia Freedman

            Yep, and that’s reasonable. The trade-off ends up being money invested in smaller upside deals because they happen to be later stage.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            I really think there’s a better way, that I haven’t seen, for screening who’s likely to be successful. If I ever have the chance to experiment with investing I will design a framework to follow.

    4. JLM

      .You need to spell out the equity arrangement as it is not clear from your website.Having spent some time in Buffalo, I applaud your efforts. Not to piss on your campfire but Buffalo could be considered a tough sell to a lot of folks and your approach is a good antidote. Good luck with thatGood luck and best wishes from Austin, Texas.JLM.

    5. ShanaC

      How is your relationship with SUNY Buffalo?

    6. LE

      Since the object is to get people to Buffalo you might want needto include front and center (and also on a link) “Why Buffalo” and givesome info on what it’s like to live and work in Buffalo. Complete with pictures, events, places to eat, parks, clubs and all of that. Maybe also on the affordability in housing. Maybe something also that will get the parents to support this.So for example let’s say I’m a young person and I know nothing about Buffalo what can you tell me on the website that will get me interested other than the prize and process?

      1. JamesHRH

        LE, this is actually a very good point.I think the contest assumes that you think bad things about Buffalo and the have overcome those things (with the $1M).But, the $1M only gets someone’s attention.Where would we live?How sucky is Buffalo?Is there any nice part of town (there are lots)? Is there anything to do (best AAA ballpark in America)? What’s the diversity like? etc.Its a super cool idea and they deserve lots of props, but its about the ABCs (Always Be Closing).

        1. Salt Shaker

          I see your point (to a point), but it’s not like one is traveling to Buffalo for a new dress. If the lure of considerable funding isn’t strong enough, independent of any accoutrements that the city has to offer, then their passion and commitment to their biz idea is somewhat questionable. It’s not like being shipped to Damascas. There’s an inherent geographic bias in today’s thread that’s a tad unsettling. I’m just sayin!

          1. JamesHRH

            Actually, one of the biggest reasons to move to a hub of startup activity is other startups.If you don’t have that, and Buffalo does not (yet), you sell everything you have to sell.

      2. Peter Burakowski

        Thanks for the feedback, LE – we will be adding a great deal of content about Buffalo to 43north.org – in the form of blog posts, photo galleries and videos over the next several weeks.

  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    My time at an accelerator in Providence was a crash course in what this kind of program and attracting startups can do for a city. Wasn’t that long ago that Brown students wouldn’t dream of crossing the river and going downtown. Now, it’s a buzzing little city with great places to eat and drink, catch live music and theater, go to meetups, etc.Most of Providence’s accelerator startups choose to stay in Providence.Supporting a startup community builds the entire community. Go Buffalo!

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I’ve been visiting Providence a couple times a year, usually to visit an old friend from WPI. Hell of a drive from Connecticut but it’s a nice city. It feels creative and lived in.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Great description. Providence still has grit, for sure. I like that. The architecture there is fabulous.Take the train 😉

  8. Aaron Klein

    USV has been one of the first firms to recognize that the Internet itself is allowing great companies to come from anywhere (your investment in Dwolla being a good example). Kudos to you.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Where do you live again?

      1. Aaron Klein

        Sacramento. Another town off the beaten startup path.There’s something great about that…I can recruit people to come work for Sactown’s hottest startup…and have that be true. 🙂

        1. pointsnfigures

          If a startup in Sactown fails, they can get a job with the govt.

          1. Aaron Klein

            My people wouldn’t be qualified — they can’t speak bureaucratese and have a track record of getting things done.

        2. awaldstein

          And close the quite astounding and tiny wine region of the Sierra Nevada Foothils.Some really great wine being made up there.

          1. Aaron Klein

            I live right in the middle of it. My wife and sister-in-law toured one of them for a tasting yesterday.I’d have been there, but someone had to watch the kids. 😉

          2. awaldstein

            I don’t know the region that well but am friends with the people behind La Clarine Farms, one of the best natural Cal wineries there are.Great folks. He’s an ex musician and their wine rocks.And also (sorry) they are the only bio-dynamic vineyard I know of in the world that doesn’t use birds of prey to keep rodents out of the vineyard. They have three cats that do the job for them.(Yes–cat fanatic here as is well known!)

          3. Aaron Klein

            Clearly you need to come visit Riskalyze HQ, which is surrounded by all of these amazing wineries!

          4. awaldstein

            I’d actually love to meet your family as well and go visit the wineries.

  9. pointsnfigures

    Heard a great lecture from a guy who used to run Kauffman Institute (name escapes me). He said Carrier did more to put the north out of business than anyone else when he invented air conditioning. He also chided the “NY Open for Business” ads. He said, “How would you feel if you were an older operating business in NY and a new business (competitor) moved in and got subsidies from the state-which you weren’t eligible for?BTW, pre-Civil War there were more millionaires per sq inch in New Orleans than anywhere else on earth. Controlling the Mississippi River meant something. Reminds me of “controlling the internet”. (Google, Cable cos, telecom cos)Good they are doing the startup competition, but cities and states should not hook their wagon to entrepreneurship as a way out of current financial messes.

    1. andyswan

      Heard Texas has a pretty large tax-free zone…

      1. fredwilson

        That’s an invitation for JLM to stop by and do his “Texas is the greatest place on earth schtick” This is the week that Austin reminds the tech business how great a place it is

        1. JLM

          .Ahh, it is sweet having Fred Wilson acknowledging the attractiveness of the ATX. Sweet Indeed. [Little joke that Fred will get.]Having spent some time in Buffalo — lake effect snow storms are quite grand — I can tell you that Texas in general and Austin in particular are quite a bit nicer but home is always the place you want to be.This is really a statement about governing philosophy. Texas did not have to bash its policies to fit — they are natural, logical and long standing.The Texas Opportunity Fund has been around for some time and the state has been a net exporter of capital for even longer.This program — in Buffalo — is exactly how government should be creating jobs. Fund the private sector and don’t make direct investment.I applaud NY State funding 43North and I abhor their direct grants to folks like Solyndra — billions in losses. Huge mistake.Good luck and God speed to 43North.Fred, time to think about your moving to the ATX? [Just being ugly. Sorry.]JLM.

          1. falicon

            I grew up in the Erie, PA area (I believe we got hit worse than Buffalo with most of that lake effect snow)…Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh were all *about* the same distance away. Buffalo ranked at the bottom of those three as a destination for events/fun for many many years.Buffalo has finally started to revive a little bit and will always hold a soft spot in my heart (they, more than any other city I’ve been around, have the ‘work hard/under dog’ mentality for sure).It will be interesting to see what level of teams enter/win this thing…and how they evolve over the next few years (the rules seem to state that the key management needs to live in the Buffalo area for at least a year after winning).I hope it does pull even more talent and life into the area (and open up the world for more of the locals — who are *way* more talented/capable than they are generally raised to believe).

          2. LE

            They ought to do a reality show modeled after the dating game except people are picking cities based on having questions answered.Then you get to see the look on people’s faces when they find out that “you’ve picked Allentown PA!!!!”

        2. LE

          That’s an invitation for JLM to stop by and do his “Texas is the greatest place on earth schtick”Well fwiw when I was talking to my daughter about places to try and get a job when she graduates the list went like this:SVNYCAustinSV ranks above NYC simply because the balance of women to men favors women in SV. And I think it’s safer but mainly women/men balance. For a man NYC is the clear winner.Austin is on the list 80% because of what JLM has been doing with his schtick.Brainwashing works. Why there are so many jewish doctors and lawyers.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      > BTW, pre-Civil War there were more millionaires per sq inch in New Orleans than anywhere else on earth. Controlling the Mississippi River meant something.Supposedly much of the value of NYC was due to ‘controlling’ the Hudson River and, thus, the Erie Canal to the Great Lakes and access to the US Midwest. Of course, the ‘point’ of the Mississippi River also is ‘access’ to the US Midwest along with much of the US South, much of the US North West, and some of the US East, PIttsburgh?, via the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri rivers and, via a canal in Chicago, the Great Lakes. Another candidate was Baltimore. Supposedly there is a good reason NYC beat out New Orleans, but I don’t recall it now. Then with railroads, Chicago, at the southern end of Lake Michigan, got to be a big deal.

      1. pointsnfigures

        True, Buffalo’s early history was tied to the Erie Canal. Chicago was tied more to the creation of the warehouse receipt making commodities fungible-along with the I+M Canal.

    3. JLM

      .Pre-Civil War, more millionaires in Natchez up river from Nawlins due to King Cotton.In the Civil War, Vicksburg decided to fight it out and was destroyed. Great battlefield that I once toured for a couple of weeks on horseback. A great experience.Natchez, on the other hand, let the Yankees fire a single shot from a ship and then surrendered indicating they were smart to bootBecause of this there are a huge number of surviving plantations in Natchez. A great place to visit BTW.JLM.

  10. andyswan

    WTF is a business plan?

    1. Aaron Klein

      Hopefully a 2-5 page document that demonstrates you know how to think strategically.Otherwise, a colossal waste of time.

      1. andyswan

        Call me old fashioned but I prefer to be judged by the marketplace.

        1. Aaron Klein

          True. But when raising capital, I finally got smart enough to learn how to say “no” to prospective investors demanding something new in a different format.”But how can I invest without reading your 45-page plan with detailed revenue projections for year seven?”Answer: YOU can’t invest.

          1. Josh Maher

            I’m sure you have a pitch deck though 🙂

          2. Aaron Klein

            Yep, a deck and a two pager. If that, plus answering any questions they had, wasn’t enough for folks, they weren’t the right investors for us. 🙂

          3. JimHirshfield

            One deck, two pager, and 3 questions?Or can they ask unlimited questions? ;-)But seriously, the more questions they ask, the better usually, right? Shows genuine interest and a desire to understand.

          4. Aaron Klein

            Questions are always unlimited as far as I’m concerned. Unless the first one is “what is the Internet?”

          5. JimHirshfield

            New game: Fund this startup in 20 questions

          6. matthughes


          7. Matt A. Myers

            Ya, that feels cringe worthy.

          8. JamesHRH

            I remember going through that almost 20 years ago (imagine, before startups were cool).You want me to do 5 year projections just to test my accounting assumptions? Um, market category does not exist so the numbers are pulled out of my ass? your ass?Ok, only thought the last part.Next.

          9. Aaron Klein


      2. AJP

        Pretty simple. All 43North wants is an executive summary level of info. at the beginning. 15-20 minutes of time to describe the management, idea, market, etc. Not rocket science.Basic idea is to democratize access to capital. Less about the merit of your network and all about the merit of you and your idea.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Very fair.

    2. fredwilson

      I bet they will accept a link to a working prototype

      1. andyswan

        Ya it looks like they’re really reasonable and all about getting best teams in town. Love that they’re going BIG

      2. Steve Poland

        Also not just plans, but actual businesses. All are welcomed in this competition. Raised a round post-TechStars and raising a new round, but finding difficulty? Come!

    3. Josh Maher

      Isn’t today’s business plan just a pitch deck?

    4. Matt A. Myers

      It’s this stack of paper that takes time away from executing on your plan. And as a business plan should, is always evolving and where your current thoughts are will likely be at a more evolved place that your previous “business plan” doesn’t yet incorporate.

      1. andyswan

        Ya my eyebrows raised at “submit in Feb judged in October”…. I have failed 3 times in that span

  11. Jordy Levy

    I am at a loss to figure out why anyone would think this is a bad idea. Amazing to me, if you aren’t interested,don’t participate. We have hundreds of companies every month ask us to fund their dream and the number that get funding is pretty small. This is another vehicle to help fund companies and enteupruners, why would that be a bad thing?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Who’s putting it down? I think most of the conversation here is positive and supportive of what you’re doing. It’s a great thing.

    2. pointsnfigures

      I hope you don’t think my comment about hooking your future to startups was an indication that this was a bad idea-it isn’t. My thought is that any city, state or national government that invests in (with taxpayer dollars) or hitches their future to creating a new Silicon Valley is headed in the wrong direction. Entrepreneurs lead a startup culture. Private dollars seed it. Government keeps the roads plowed (except in Atlanta) and the streets safe. Govt should do it at the lowest possible cost with little regulation and taxes.

      1. Timothy Meade

        There’s a lot to recommend building a mid – size company in the Midwest or places like WNY. Cost of living and therefore expected salary is much lower than NYC or SV. It might make sense for a company that only needs a few employees to work though. We also need better recruiting for programming talent and more focus at the University level on practical applications in CS without becoming a Visual Basic program.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. LE

            VALUE OF LIVING LOWER TOO.You get the “Irving (Jim) Hirschfeld” comedy award today for that. [1][1] Modeled after this.http://en.wikipedia.org/wik

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. pointsnfigures

          I think the most important thing for a new tech company is network, and access to some customers that will give them honest feedback. In Chicago, it’s all about building up a network to support startups right now. We need more seed/early stage capital; but we also need mentorship. It can be done anywhere, just build on the strengths of the local economy DNA. Even depressed areas like Buffalo or Cleveland have something to build on. Takes time, and the right people.

      2. LE

        or hitches their future to creating a new Silicon ValleyI think the question is what could the money ($5 million total?) they are giving in prizes be used for in order to attract permanent jobs to that area as opposed to a startup business plan competition where you only have to stay for a year (and given the age and the ephemerality of the target group that’s a definite possibility).Nothing wrong with government handing out money to create jobs (has worked with foreign car makers, right?) but I’m not sure this is the best use of it to be fair. It might be but I’m not sure.I mean essentially you are creating 11 startups and from everything that I know (and you know more than I do) that’s a really small “n” investing wise to score a win. And that assumes that the “win” will even stay in town.Otoh $5 million is the cost of two super bowl ads so maybe there will be a publicity effect that will draw people to the area (I don’t think it will but thought I’d mention that angle).

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. LE

            Not as good as the ad for Portland “Dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland”http://www.youtube.com/watc…Or the 1890’s:http://www.youtube.com/watc…Many eagles land in Portland but not the motivated kind that create jobs. But they are probably damn good barristas, musicians, and artists.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Kasey Colfer

            hi guys

      3. Dan Magnuszewski

        There is no push to be “The Next Silicon Valley”, which would be foolish. The goal is to help strengthen Buffalo’s economy, support and bring in new entrepreneurs, and help build a better Buffalo.

  12. Richard

    And as they say in adverting “and there is more”, buffalo also offers a student loan forgiveness program.PS someone please “disrupt” the student loan debt problem. It is embarrassing. Shame on all you worthless “politicians” and “academics” for tacking advantage of so many people.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      I wish my student loan debt would get disrupted. The economics are pretty simple: people with degrees make more money than those that don’t. On average it seems to be a good investment to lend a lot of money to college students because they’ll make it up in the difference between what their salary would have been without the degree and what they make with it. Lots of sad stories of people who are not making enough to pay their loans. I know I’m making less than I expected right now, but at least I can pay my bills. The government needs to change the rules to make it easier for students to discharge the debt in bankruptcy. I’m a big believer in paying off debts (it worked for the US during the revolution, etc.) but some of the stories I read about people trying to get student loans discharged are harrowing.

      1. Richard

        I’m not talking about bankruptcy. It is unconscionable to put students into debt servitude. Again Shame on All the co-conspirators. We have bailouts for banks, for home owners, for the energy companies, for farmers and the list goes on. It make economic sense too. Home buying, entrepreneurship et al. are all held back student loan debt. Nobody should pay new this $300 a month for their student loan debt.PS of course looking backward degree hiolders make more the highschool grads. This is a spurious result. There is a confounding variable omitted. I leave it to you to figure it out.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          $300/month? I wish, I put down $1000/month (which is the 10-year repayment plan). I would love to see someone solve that problem.

  13. sigmaalgebra

    Yes, if get the funding, then maybe have enough to cover the cost of heating oil for a Buffalo winter, but, then, what about covering the other expenses? :-)!Nice that have access to the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes for water transportation, coal, grain, steel, etc., but what about good fiber optic bandwidth for Internet communications? Electric power, maybe coal or hydroelectric from Canada?I could like Buffalo: My father grew up in West Valley, a little south of Buffalo. His father ran the general store, and his step father ran the feed and grain mill. His mother had a nice two story Victorian house and made an apple pie a day for about 60 years and left when she was 84 and lived with us until she died of a broken hip. West Valley was a cross roads in a dairy farming area.

  14. Jordy Levy

    Its a fair comment Elia and one we discuss with regularity. So far, the applications which number close to 400 two weeks into the launch, have been a pretty solid mix of pieces of paper, business plans and going operations from the entire country and Canada. Hoping to get some international applications as well, but we will continue to place most of our marketing dollars to the early stage start up community, were we think we can have the greatest impact.

  15. JLM

    .The big story here is that this is the way that a smart government should fund the creation of jobs. In this instance, they harness their money pony to a wagon run by guys for whom this is not their first rodeo. Smart.Compare this to the ill advised Federal programs which resulted in the Solyndras sucking the Treasury dry.One might argue that these two programs had similar objectives but they will have tremendously different outcomes.Texas has been doing this for years with its Texas Opportunity Fund.This is a smart government program. Slap a couple of entrepreneurs with a checkbook and let them do their thing.This is a stupid program. Give gobs of money to political allies and pick winners and losers.Good luck and God speed to 43North.JLM.

  16. jason wright

    does this competition require winners to cough up equity?

  17. Salt Shaker

    I wonder if there’s still a wee bit of geographical arrogance within the tech community? Certainly there’s been enough success stories beyond NYC, SV, etc., to suggest otherwise. You’ve got to applaud Buffalo for this initiative, which seems pretty sweet. I’ve never been to this fair city to the north, and my perception is inextricably linked to (4) Jim Kelly SB losses and “Norwood wide right,” but I’m told it has a lot to offer. Sounds like a great opportunity.

  18. Tom O'Brien

    I seem to remember Detroit doing a similar thing, in fact the state govt offered significant incentives for entrepreneurs to set up shop in Detroit. I’d like to know what sort of success they experienced.I’ve got to think Buffalo has a leg up on Detroit for a lot of reasons. Hopefully this will ignite the economy before Buffalo suffers the same Rust Belt fate of other ‘Burgs along the great lakes.Besides, Buffalo does have some good wings.



    1. Jordy Levy

      If that would work we would do it, talk to me!

      1. gbattle

        Hey Jordy, long time no chat. Buffalo born and bred …There’s actually something to Grimlock’s suggestion. When I worked in Jerusalem around 2009, I learned about Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist subsidy: $500K per year per startup for engineering salaries. The key was it had to be for engineering talent only and represent a critical growth industry. This could work on a retention basis to keep startups in Buffalo.As an aside, there’s a lot than can be added to the website to “sell” Buffalo. I’d be happy to connect and discuss.LET’S GO BUFFALO!

  20. GrahamATrotman

    ve got to think Buffalo has a leg up on Detroit for a lot of reasons. Hopefully this will ignite the economy before Buffalo suffers the same Rust Belt fate of other ‘Burgs along the great lakes. http://num.to/728921453940

  21. Shaheed Abdol

    I think the fact that they ommitted “Why Buffalo” was intentional, it seems that Buffalo is not that awesome to begin with. Hmmm, a much simpler option would be to spend that prize money to build a casino and a world-class strip joint, and watch the people come rolling in.

  22. Nadia McDonald

    This is a brilliant idea. However, does it apply only to American citizens. I did some reading on this and I was quit impressed. It’s unfortunate it doesn’t apply to other places.

  23. Paseka Makoti

    I bet whatever is lucrative in the USA is double so in South Africa.

  24. Pompei Avram

    I’m not familiar with all the legal terms but the combination of the following 2 paragraphs from the Terms and Conditions could make one be a little wary.from here (http://www.43north.org/terms)Staged Payment. Recipients may receive their equity investment in staged payments, payable as defined milestones are met. Such milestones would be established by our judging committee and made a condition of payment of the award.Equity Interest to be Issued to 43North. Recipients, as a condition of the award, must issue to 43North a number of capital shares or membership interest percentage equal to 5% of the outstanding equity of the recipient as of the date of the first payment of the award. Such 5% equity interest to be conveyed to 43North shall be non-dilutable without the prior written consent of 43North.

  25. Nadia McDonald

    I have so many ideas, I don’t know where to begin. I started my creative arts club, I am a private tutor, aspiring author, and training to start my freelance career. I embrace this concept.

  26. Nadia McDonald

    This is a awesome opportunity to launch your business. I plan to live in New York, because of the many opportunities. This is exciting!

  27. JimHirshfield

    …without the music.

  28. JamesHRH

    That is a big issue in Buffalo. The most visible parts – say, viewed from the I90 as people blow through, are decidedly not glitzy.But the waterfront on Lake Erie is massive opportunity.

  29. fredwilson

    Without Motown and Kiss and Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr 🙂

  30. JimHirshfield

    🙂 Klinger FTW!!

  31. AJP

    5% common.

  32. Aaron Klein

    You led me to a 2005 NYT story I’d never read. Thanks. 🙂

  33. Aaron Klein

    It depends what stage.Spreadsheets are absolutely worthless until you’ve actually figured out the business model.

  34. Aaron Klein

    Software can be life changing, my friend. Especially some of the software you’re working on.The software I’m working on protects the hopes and dreams of tens of thousands (and soon millions) of people.That’s a life’s work I will be proud of.

  35. LE

    “But the waterfront on Lake Erie is massive opportunity.”Why do you say that?

  36. JamesHRH

    Most people do not even think of Buffalo as a lakefront community.Because most people who drive through Buffalo drive through the north end of town – they are taking the I90 from NYC or somewhere on the east coast and they cut across SW Ontario into MIchigan or wherever they are going out west – they never see the best part of the city.North / NE Buffalo is unattractive in the most industrial kind of way.Very few people – I have personally never done it – drive the I90 east / NE from Cleveland into Buffalo. That side of town, Orchard Park & the marina, is on a Great Lake, the incredibly pond like Lake Erie.I say Buffalo, you think wings, Bills, cold, rust.I say Buffalo, locals think wings, lake, beach beers.

  37. PhilipSugar

    I don’t mind the spreadsheets. I don’t mind outlining the model. What drives me nuts is discussing cell ab150 in huge detail.I think I can make a model of almost any business with my templates in less than a day of work. That includes going back and forth and back and forth.

  38. gbattle

    I grew up in Orchard Park! Lovely town, though it is not on any waterfront.One of the best things about Buffalo is that from a commuting/travel standpoint, you can get around the different towns with ease at any time. Nothing is more than 30 minutes away. You can go from urban chic to beach to suburban comfort to farmland to vast parks to another country, all within 30 minutes.

  39. JamesHRH

    Hmm, that is worded like Orchard Park is on the lake – good catch.