The Buffalo Bet

Last year I went up to Buffalo and talked to their startup community and got a tour of the emerging startup community there. I was impressed by what I saw. Like many cities around the country, Buffalo is betting on tech and tech startups to give their economy a boost.

Part of this bet is the $5mm startup challenge called 43North. I wrote about this last year and it is happening again.

43North is the world’s largest business idea competition. Once again they are awarding $5 million in cash, in the form of a $1 million grand prize, six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes. Winners also receive space in the 43North incubator, mentorship and access to START-UP NY, which allows companies to operate free of New York State taxes for 10 years.

The competition is open to applicants ages 18 and over from anywhere around the world, in any industry, with a few exceptions, like bricks-and-mortar retail and hospitality. It is free to apply and the first round application is a high-level business summary that takes 20-30 minutes to complete. Applications are due at by June 24.

Last year’s winners hailed from places like Taiwan, Miami, Brooklyn, Toronto and Atlanta and had businesses ranging from biotech to a virtual fitting room. All 11 winners are located in Buffalo and most of them in an incubator facility located in the heart of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in free space with services, classes, training, support and mentors.

This is all part of NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion, a huge investment in Buffalo, which once was the 8th largest city in the US. The decline of the manufacturing and related transportation businesses in the midwest in the 20th century changed all of that. But we are in a new era, one defined by technology, and Buffalo wants a part of that. If you want to be part of that resurgence and get some much needed capital for your business too, check out 43North.

#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. scottythebody

    Cool idea!

  2. Bob Vance

    Interesting,”Recipients, as a condition of the award, must issue to 43North a purchase right or Warrant that enables 43North to purchase from the recipient a number of capital shares or membership interest equal to 5% of the outstanding equity of the recipient at the time the Warrant is exercised. The Warrant will remain in effect for a period of ten (10) years following the date upon which the award is granted. The purchase price at the time of exercise will be a nominal amount. For clarity, 43North would have the right to purchase a 5% interest in each recipient for a nominal amount at any time during the ten (10) years following the date of an award.”

    1. creative group

      Good Day Everyone:A better equity position for founders to give 5% when thereis no other finance and technicalassistance available. Try Shark Tank and have Mr. Wonderful demand 75% equity.Invaluable information forany entrepreneur with limited choices and guidance.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Interesting. 5% is not unusual at all, and some accelerators provide a LOT less cash for the same equity. It would be interesting to hear the rationale behind the 10 year part.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Cuomo gave that provision to any business that would move to NYC. Sort of creates an unfair playing field for existing NY businesses when you think about it.

  3. Tom Labus

    Do the companies have to be out of the incubator within a certain time, like 2 years?

  4. andyswan

    If anyone is interested, I know of a very effective and popular method of avoiding NY taxes for 100+ years.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m paying. You are not. I’m happy too

      1. andyswan

        Mobility and States’ Rights FTW!

        1. fredwilson

          Yup. Not gonna send my kids or grandkids to college in Texas

          1. andyswan

            I’m planning to let mine choose for themselves.I got a lot out of my time in Boston/NYC at that age that my parents and grandparents couldn’t have foreseen.

          2. fredwilson

            I let my kids choose but no schools that encourage gun ownership on campus. Thats fucking nuts

          3. andyswan

            I hear Baltimore, chicago and DC have gun laws that may be more to your liking.

          4. Jordan Thaeler

            A little probing into history shows precisely what happens when you confiscate arms from citizens. Amazing how we have thousands of years of written records and some people never learn. I know, I know: Socialism has only failed hundreds of times because it just hasn’t been tried by the right person; this time it’s different!

          5. andyswan

            What use are facts when emotion is involved?

          6. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Yes, why *are* gun enthusiasts so emotional?

          7. pointsnfigures

            I think the same reason pro-choice people are so emotional. They feel like if there is one crack through the door, it opens the whole issue up. For me, I own 2 shotguns. I hunt with them. Hate dealing with the bureaucracy that I have to deal with to buy ammo etc. Doesn’t make me any safer, and doesn’t make anyone else any safer either. Will tell you that if you ever take a class that will allow you to conceal carry you probably won’t want to carry.

          8. LE

            With abortion it’s all brainwashing but more so on the pro life side no question about that. Ditto with guns with some (but not all) people. Hard to believe a kid raised hunting with grandpa and gun exposure is not brainwashed in some way. I mean I have a love of cars (and new cars in particular) that I know I picked up from my Dad and the way things were in the auto industry when I was growing up (which is not the case today with kids..) You probably remember keeping the sticker on the car as it sat in the driveway so the neighbors could what it cost.

          9. LE

            Guessing because it’s a religion. Like religion is for the religious. [1] Like abortion and religion. All of that. Brainwashed into people. They don’t even question why they do those stupid religious things and would never do so.[1] It’s just a “built it” and they continue doing it even though it serves no logical purpose and is a near complete waste of time. My Uncle died a few years ago and my cousin, who is “religious” got up every morning very early before work so he could go to the “minyon” at the synagogue for 1 year to do the prayer. Every single day.

          10. Matt Zagaja


          11. pointsnfigures

            Gun laws in Chicago are meaningless. In some neighborhoods here it’s a shooting gallery. But, to tell you the truth it probably has more to do with the stupid war on drugs, lack of father figures in the home and the breakdown of family structure than it does with the guns.

          12. andyswan

            Of course… only law-abiding citizens obey laws that keep them from defending themselves.I’d say the 80%+ rate of single motherhood is the biggest culprit, as you suggest. “War on drugs” is a distant 2nd.

          13. pointsnfigures

            If I were a benevolent dictator, I’d stop the war on drugs first. Then I’d change mandatory sentencing guidelines to make a lot of non-violent crimes a misdemeanor and not a felony. These people are getting warehoused in prison. Really not fair to them.

          14. andyswan

            You’d see a lot more violent crimes, with a lot more shitheads on the street. I’m not disagreeing with you, I just think it’s important that we recognize that one of the costs associated with decreased incarceration (which I favor).My first move would be to tie benefits directly to societal contribution. Want the check? Grab a shovel.

          15. Bob Vance

            “I let my kids choose but no schools that encourage gun ownership on campus. Thats fucking nuts” That’s not choice

          16. JLM

            .Whoa, Pardner! Your horse has thrown you and, apparently, you have landed on your head. Let me “hep” you.Nobody in colleges or universities or anyone in the State of Texas is “encouraging” gun ownership on campus.The State of Tx has a very difficult CHL (concealed handgun license) program.One must pass a stringent background investigation (60 days), take a training course, pass a written test, demonstrate proficiency in handling, loading and shooting a pistol (automatic or revolver) and then pass a shooting test.Only then do you get a CHL.If you have a CHL and your handgun is not “concealed” and is seen by a member of the public, you have just committed a felony. A CHL holder cannot allow anyone to “see” her pistol.This law — erroneously called “open carry” — simply negates the inadvertent observation of a CHL’s pistol being a felony. Nothing more.It does not allow an unlicensed citizen or student to openly carry a weapon on a campus. It does not create a new category of gun owners. It does not even take away the right of a college to enforce its own gun rules on its own property.It just eliminates the felony offense of violating the “concealed” portion of the CHL law.See, nobody is going nuts in Texas. We may already be nuts. Fair play to that.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          17. pointsnfigures

            Might be, but most of the kids at southern schools have a very intensive home “education” when it comes to gun safety. My daughter went to Ole Miss. Lots of kids had guns-and went hunting every weekend. No incidents.But, if you don’t have gun safety ingrained into your personality by someone in your home it certainly could be nuts.

          18. JLM

            .Hunting — not really the subject of the recent controversies — is like fishing, a part of the Southern outdoors heritage.Gun safety with hunting weapons is an easy proposition.You hunt. You keep your weapon unloaded until you’re near the game. You lean your weapon against a fence, you cross the fence, you retrieve your weapon. You keep ammunition in your truck even if you sleep with your weapons. You do not store a weapon and ammunition next to each other. You clean your shotgun or rifle afterwards. You put it and your ammo under lock and key in a gun safe until next you go hunting.In Texas, the EasyRiderRifleRack is a reality for pickups in the rural parts of the state–50% of the population or 13MM folks are rural.In rural parts of the state, ranchers and wranglers carry a shot gun, a Winchester and a revolver to deal with varmints, coyotes, snakes and javelinas. Should be able to use them on politicians but not yet.It is a small part of a well respected and known culture.They are just tools, like a carpenter’s hammer which also can be deadly when misused.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          19. pointsnfigures

            One time I went deer hunting. I walked all the way out to the stand, climbed the tree, got in, and realized I forgot to take my trigger lock off……had to go back to the truck to get the key. The deer were laughing.

          20. JLM

            .Haha, checklist, amigo.One year, I was in Denver and flew down to Austin, drove out to Menard, everyone was out hunting. Lot of my VMI Brother Rats.I climbed a deer stand, looked out — there was a very nice buck.I loaded my rifle (pre-WWII Sako with a Zeiss scope), aimed and squeezed. The deer fell.Total elapsed time for that entire deer season — about ten minutes.My mother was a hunter.JLM

          21. LE

            I don’t have a particular position really on guns. I choose not to own one because in my case I think there are risks in doing so. But I don’t criticize anyone else who wants to own one legally.However, you said this:Gun safety with hunting weapons is an easy proposition.Then you listed a bunch of things in a way that seems to indicate that we are talking about iphone simplicity. If I was on the “other side” (and I”m not) I would do research to figure out how many gun owners even know all that you listed and further how many actually follow all of those rules.Pretend for a second if we wanted to allow drivers to go 100 miles per hour but “only when nobody else is on the road and only when the road is dry and only when you drive a Sports Car and have been driving for at least 7 years” and so on. How do you think that would go IRL?The problem is the fuck ups. (Look at recent TSA news…)Gun safety with hunting weapons is an easy proposition.They are just tools, like a carpenter’s hammer which also can be deadly when misused.That’s the old “you can kill someone with a car” argument and in a similar way “well locks are meaningless because if someone wants to break in they will” or “a determined hacker can defeat any system you have in place so…”

          22. JLM

            .You are over thinking the proposition.First, there is almost no huntable Federal land in Texas. I personally do not know of any. Remember, we were a country when we joined the US, so no Federal land. It belonged to the State.Therefore, there is no place for “fuck ups” to hunt by themselves.You have to have access to private land to hunt which means the owner has control as to who hunts on his land.When you hunt with a bunch of guys, one guy is designated as the gun safety dude. Usually me. I check that everyone’s rifle is safe, unloaded and that the ammo is in their truck. Guns in the house–bolts open at all times. Ammo in the trucks. No exceptions.If there is a newbie, they hunt with an experienced hunter. Nobody is wandering around on their own. Typically, we are hunting from stands or blinds. So, folks are paired off.As the hunters return, I check their weapons and clear them.No drinking while hunting. Period.There is a bit of culture and tradition to it and young people learn from their fathers or elders. Like learning to ride a horse. Nobody just buys a horse and a saddle and jumps on. Someone shows you how. You want to learn to ride well and you want to learn to hunt correctly.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          23. LE

            You are over thinking the proposition.Saying someone is “over thinking” is a bit patronizing you can make the same point w/o saying something like that. We are making comments on a blog for entertainment and educational purposes. In any case my comment only relates to what I know and what you said in your comment. Which didn’t include any reference at all to any state, let alone the situation in Texas. Really pretty much tried to address the idea that what you were saying was “easy”.

          24. JLM

            .Please accept my apology, Mr Sensitivity. Sheesh!This is like a conversation at a bar. Sorry for my inexcusable insensitivity and cruelty. Will not happen again, Alice.I thought you Philly boys were a tougher breed of cat.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          25. LE

            I thought you Philly boys were a tougher breed of cat.That is the lower class primarily in South Philadelphia that watches sports, drinks beer and goes to Pats or Ginos Steaks and double parks on Broad Street.

          26. JLM

            .No, all of your Philly boys and men, are tough. It’s the winters and the pretzels.I see it in your writing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          27. Dave Pinsen

            Seung-Hui Cho was able to murder 32 people and wound another 17 at Virginia Tech because none of his victims were armed. Too bad he didn’t go to school in Texas. An armed Texan might have put him down before racked up such a high body count.

          28. LE

            Also a downside risk though.You aren’t taking into account the potential for harm that owning a gun involves. You have to weigh the probability of what you are describing above happening vs. what would happen if you owned a gun yourself and a mistake is made. Perhaps even by you defending yourself and being charged with a crime or even hurting yourself.

          29. ZekeV

            How many students have been killed by gun violence on campus? I would be much more concerned about the drug and alcohol culture, and general competitive pressure, than firearms.When I attended Clarkson in upstate NY, gun-owning students who lived in the dorms had to check their firearms with campus security, and sign them out to go hunting or whatever. I would think this is a reasonable policy for a rural campus, but perhaps you would think it’s crazy for campus security to allow gun-owning students at all? No one was shot, as far as I’m aware, but there were deaths due to alcohol abuse, DUI, etc.I later attended Columbia, which is certainly anti-gun. I don’t recall any recent gun deaths. I did have an apartment-mate at Columbia in NYC who was murdered by her boyfriend with a knife. And there were a number of gravity-assisted deaths.My point is, gun ownership is not necessarily the most unhealthy thing going on at universities. Drugs and alcohol, mental health, that seems to be the real hazard to me. I would probably discourage my son from attending either Clarkson (too much drinking) or Columbia (poor mental health environment).

          30. JLM

            .At my college, we slept with rifles — don’t say “gun” (This for fighting, this is for fun, this is my rifle, this is my gun.) — and bayonets.Then, again, it was a military school and we had tanks, mortars and howitzers.There is never violence on a campus which has howitzers.If a cadet picked up a rifle with a bayonet attached and threatened another cadet, he was dismissed.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          31. Peter Fleckenstein

            What’s really Nucking Futs is the “gun free safety zones”. Since 1950 every mass shooting has occurred in a gun free safety zone except one. Hmmm

          32. LE

            I’m planning to let mine choose for themselves.I never understood that thinking actually. What the fuck does a kid know about making a decision like that?Recently my niece was deciding between 2 colleges. Her mother (my sister) was leaning toward one college because it had a coop program and so she felt it would be easier getting a job. I stepped right in there and explained that as a woman in the particular engineering field she had chosen (civil engineering I think) she wouldn’t have any problem getting a job and she should go to the college w/o the coop program which had, in my opinion, greater advantages. I pressed pretty hard on it as well. I got involved and sold her. (We aren’t even particularly close either..)A few days later I heard that she had made up her mind, that she would go to the college that I suggested.I got a lot out of my time in Boston/NYC at that age that my parents and grandparents couldn’t have foreseen.Don’t you think that in this day and age you could do better than your parents did back when you were choosing a college?

          33. LE

            I got a lot out of my time in Boston/NYC at that ageWait so are you claiming that you had figured out in advance that you would get that much from being there or that it just happened that you made that choice and got a great deal out of it?And if you had figured it out in advance wouldn’t it have been possible to “sell” your parents on the reason and assuming they are logical people and listen to you then you would end up going there anyway?Why just say “ok just pick whatever college you want” when you can say “tell me why you want this particular college opportunity and what you are basing it on” which makes much more sense by making someone justify the choice.

          34. andyswan

            I have no idea why you are assuming that I won’t be involved with educating my kids on their decisions. Ultimately, however, it is their decision… I won’t be “sending them” anywhere.

          35. LE

            You said “I’m planning to let mine choose for themselves.” that is why.Now you say “Ultimately, however, it is their decision…”.Anecdote (but this is only one of many data points). My dad didn’t want my sister going overseas to Rome (this was the 70’s) to spend two (of 4) years in art school. He also didn’t want her to go to art school. “You will never get a job”. So she defied him and paid for school herself. She graduated and only could get a job in a frame shop making minimum wage (this was back by the way when there were actually jobs for college graduates). I ended up hiring her at my company that I started. She learned actual things there and then got herself a good corporate job, one that she would have never gotten w/o the skills that she learned working for me.My point is it’s fine to let your kids in on the decision I am not saying you should say “you have to go to Dental School!!!” but unfortunately from my experience and observation over many years simply letting kids “make the decision…it’s up to you!” when they really don’t have the life experience is not a good idea. In the end the parent should have veto and approval power.Now of course if you are Fred and you have the backstop to financially take care of any mistakes that your kids make that is a different story…maybe.

          36. andyswan

            Well I am not paying for my kids’ college education, so it’s definitely up to them. I will steer them well, as I have done and will do throughout their lives as much as possible.

          37. LE

            How old are your kids?

          38. andyswan

            9 and 8

          39. LE

            Pro tip. Start at that age to tell them stories about others and present the choices that they made in a positive light. Reason for so many Jewish doctors, lawyers and so on. Parents don’t necessarily say “you will be a doctor” they simply talk about things that they want their kids to be in a positive light. And talk in a negative way about things that they don’t want while at the same time not giving any particular directives.Also even though you say you aren’t paying don’t worry about all of that “save for college shit”. Just work hard so that by the time they are in college you can help if you decide to do so.

          40. LE

            Hah! You are totally going to be paying for some if not all of her education! (Of course the plan is not to let her know that..)As far as pay, here is another “pro tip” (n=1 but it worked for me).My step daughter (10) helped me clean out my closet. Was a big help I was super happy. I asked her and my step son at the same time “who wants to help me” and she jumped up while he sat there like a postal worker. (She is like a Fedex driver..)Anyway after we were done I thought I would give her $5 for the hour of work. Then I thought “no I will tell her she can buy some things off of Amazon Prime”. Not because there is a tax advantage to doing that either, no, that was not the reason. Because that way she will have a link to something that she desires and the hard work, that is more direct. When I told her the “pay” she was super happy. Definitely much happier then when I have slipped her a few bucks which just ends up piling up in the piggy bank.Now some of the bounty (I let her buy $12 of stuff) came in today by UPS. So I will bring it home and give it to her and there will be another “positive”. I do this often. First, the announcement. Then the choice. Then the actual delivery. Three chances and you win each time.So just like with employees incentives work better than pay.

          41. awaldstein

            My parents to me, me to my kid–neither they nor i really cared as long as they were productive and happy.My son-herbologist-now the GM of crazy growing herbal supplement company.Happiness and self sufficiency are not overrated.

          42. LE

            NY taxes are high but so are NJ Taxes and it’s not even NY!Both of my daughters go or went to college in NY State. One at a private college (graduated and now working in NYC) and one at a public college (still at school and working at an internship in NYC). The public college is considered a “public ivy” (and boy do I just love that branding). We are paying full load out of state tuition for that (which of course is still less than the private college tuition).One of the considerations was being able to end up in NYC as opposed to making connections in some other place in the country. So far everything is working according to plan.

          43. Dave Pinsen

            Even if one wants to go somewhere like Rice or UT Austin?

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Places where lots of well-off people want to live can get away with having high taxes.

        1. LE

          Well there are exceptions but people are also well off because they live in those places. Do you really think that the most successful real estate developers in NYC would be as successful (by the metric that is obvious that I am talking about not “happiness”) if they were living in Lancaster PA? Or people in the media or in finance and so on?

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Hawaii has high tax rates too. Most people aren’t financially well off because they live there.

        2. Matt Zagaja

          I think it’s odd to suggest that they’re “getting away” with much of anything. Typically the high taxes support an array of amenities like public transit, trash pickup, and education that people in rural areas do not have. If you want to convince the best and brightest people to work for your government and it’s in an area that has a high cost of living they’re going to be more expensive employees to hire than in Hinsdale, Massachusetts.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Urban versus rural doesn’t explain the difference in state tax rates. New York state has plenty of rural areas, and Texas has major cities such as Dallas and Houston which have trash pickup too.

          2. Matt Zagaja

            Trash pick-up is a local service, so you would compare that on a local property tax rate not on a state tax rate.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            So why did you bring it up in the context of a discussion of state tax rates?

          4. Matt Zagaja

            It was a useful illustrative example. I think it’s also important to note that NY has much more density than TX overall. The presence of a few cities does not negate the overall spread out/rural character of Texas as a whole. Conversely the rural nature of upstate NY does not negate the super density of NYC.

          5. Dave Pinsen

            It was not a useful or relevant example, because it doesn’t explain the difference in state taxes. And neither does your attempt at characterizing New York as mostly urban and Texas as mostly rural. 87% of New York’s population is urban, but so is 81% of Texas’s population:

          6. Matt Zagaja

            I think my definition and looking at density better captures the point I made then your proposed definition. I was looking at the urbanness as a spectrum. There is a qualitative difference to living in an urban area as defined by the census when you’re in Pittsfield, MA or Middletown, CT versus being in Cambridge, MA or Brooklyn, NY. I’m not saying that Texas is full of hill people that don’t want public schools, I’m saying that demand for living in a place and density drives up prices, and when there are higher income people living somewhere they often desire more amenities.Look at property values in both states as indexed by Zillow (yellow line NY, Green US avg, Orange is TX):

          7. Jordan Thaeler

            Matt, what you list is better when privatized. Public transit loses lots of money. WM is a private company and would be happy to negotiate private contracts with citizens for trash pick up; it is a commercial business. Education is a much longer discussion. The best and brightest *generally* will not work for the government, just like they won’t work at large companies… there’s no reward for working 80 hours a week and improving things. There are lots of layers of bureaucracy that frustrate people keen on execution. There’s little change/innovation so the work is fairly mundane.

      3. LE

        You can thank your lucky stars that Gotham Gal didn’t want to go to work at Neiman Marcus (hq in Dallas Tx).

        1. JLM

          .Or that she doesn’t shop at Needless Markup?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. LE

            Now now. Nobody “needs” a classic old red car or crown mouldings either do they?Everybody spends money on different things and tends to think what they spend money on “makes sense” while others “waste money”.If you are selling fur coats to women who want to pay you a great deal of money for a fur coat you are not doing them a service if you tell them to “buy a cheaper cloth coat and save yourself money”. Or a banker that wants an expensive watch.Or a contractor who tells Phil Sugar “you don’t need wood that thick for your deck, it’s overkill”.Or the car salesman who thought he was doing me a favor by telling me that I didn’t need the advanced radar distancing option which I am now sorry that I didn’t buy.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Ha ha! The price of that method is way more than I am willing to pay.

    3. ZekeV

      These tax incentives for “startups” really piss me off. I’ve owned a small business in New York State for several years now, and paid my share of state and NYC taxes. And my partners who have lived and worked *outside* of NYS have also paid their share of NY taxes due to the aggressive extra-territorial reach of our state tax laws.Maybe a better way to generate additional employment would be to give actual small businesses that employ people in NY the same tax break that’s being offered to this special class of supposedly desirable companies that might employ people in the future, we hope. Or even better yet, reform the way that we generate revenue in this state altogether.Sorry for the rant, this is one of my pet peeves.

      1. andyswan

        Govt picks winners and losers, citizen!

      2. Stephen Voris

        Personally, I’d rather they spend the effort on simplifying the tax code rather than carving out extra exemptions – sure, the people who are on the receiving end feel relieved, but I’d bet that they’d feel more relieved if the tax code was simple enough that they didn’t have to hire a dedicated (team of) accountant(s) just to figure out what they qualified for.No company* has such a complex billing system, and for good reason.*Note: I have not done an exhaustive search on this

  5. pointsnfigures

    Buffalo used to be a great entrepreneurial hub in America. One of its greatest inventions was air conditioning. The joke is that Buffalo invented air conditioning, and now all the jobs are moving to hotter climates. No a/c, jobs would have stayed in Buffalo.

  6. JimHirshfield

    So smart those Buffalonians.

  7. Keith Blakely

    This is a great program on several levels. It encourages entrepreneurs to put some thought into their business idea and address the basic elements – team, market, competition, etc. – as part of the application process. It helps prepare them for future pitches to investors. And, if they make it even to the semifinal round, it provides visibility and exposure to the angel and VC investing community both in WNY and outside the region. My company, The InVentures Group, worked with three of our clients – OnCore Golf, CrowdBouncer, and Adiabatic Solutions – to apply and all three were selected as semifinalists. Of the three, Adiabatic made it to the final 11 and won the $1 MM prize! Kudos to all of the folks that made last year a successful inaugural launch and very happy to see it back for a second year.

  8. William Mougayar

    well, they have been marketing this program in Toronto-Waterloo, which is 1.5 hr away.but the True North …. is Canada 🙂

  9. Salt Shaker

    Nice to see Cuomo doing something constructive and on the surface not politically motivated. Curious how the winning team from Taiwan adapted to 9+ ft of snow in the Buffalo area last winter? (Likely was an easier transition for the winning team from Toronto.) I’m sure the $500K check eased their pain. All and all, a great program!

  10. Ana Milicevic

    As you all know, I’m a big fan and supporter of localized entrepreneurial hubs and startup ecosystems so I’ve been watching with interest what’s going on in Buffalo.It would be very interesting to see if the 43 North accelerator was able to support visa applications from foreign entrepreneurs wanting to build their tech in Buffalo (Canada has a similar program to stimulate settling in provinces that would normally be in less demand).

    1. Joe Cardillo

      That’s a cool idea, be neat to see it happen. Reality is, like a lot of non-SV collaborations wanting to build an ecosystem for entrepreneurship, you have to be willing to throw some serious $ down and move extremely quickly. Accelerators are startups, too (plus there’s tons of “customers” they have to keep happy if they’re mixing gov’t + private support/investment).

  11. MartinEdic

    43North is a great program but I have heard from people in it that they get no real help in the form of teaching, etc. that is useful once they are there. Accelerators should only be measured by where their companies are a year out from leaving the program. I know because I teach in one here in Rochester. This metric seems to be ignored when we talk about this movement. Success rate. And, btw, I define success as learning. If you decide an idea is not good or you’re not cut out for it, that is a form of success.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      As someone who’s been through an accelerator program, I would argue that education is nice, but access is infinitely more important. More than education, the value accelerators can provide is access to mentors, influencers, and investors that are otherwise not within reach.Education, frankly, can be obtained lots of places. Access and funding are much harder to come by, especially for those without an Ivy League or Google/PayPal mafia to tap into.Education is great, but funding and access trump it. This program also provides a far more realistic amount of capital than, say, $25k (which is the amount many accelerators provide). So it provides actual runway, as well.

      1. Yinka!

        So true. What is crucial is funding and access to resources (e.g. people, partnerships, etc) to achieve next growth milestone.

      2. MartinEdic

        The ‘education’ we provide is not operational stuff. We put them through an extensive customer discovery process where they are required to talk to at least 100 people related to their business concept to see if it is viable before they actually build it. This process inevitably makes a wide range of valuable connections with potential users, investors, mentors and more. We do discourage doing any business planning until they have a viable,scalable business model. If they don’t, it is far better to learn this at the earliest stage. We’ve been through this process with 36 software startups and the results are enlightening for everyone involved. It is basically a stripped down version of Steve Blank’s Lean methodology.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s great. But, of course, a startup could put itself through that process by reading the book (and several other resources available on Lean startup practices now).Not saying you shouldn’t educate or that it’s not valuable 🙂 But if I absolutely had to choose…

      3. Joe Cardillo

        Well said…it’s all about capital + a bigger world view for where your startup and/or idea lives and means something.

    2. falicon

      To me there is a an inherit oxymoron as it relates to incubators in that the people startups are best suited for generally are those that are self-driven, figure it out on their own, type of people.If you go into it looking for education, you are probably not ready to build a successful startup…if, however, you go into it ready to leverage the network and resources and apply them to your own ideas/plans, then I think you have a much greater chance at (eventual) success.I do question if a competition is the right filter for figuring out who would be best suited for taking advantage of what a given incubator has to offer…to me, the market is already more than enough competition for anyone interested in building a startup…so the focus should be 100% on what advantages/resources do you need to get from here to the next phase (and then from the incubator’s standpoint, how well does that line up with what we are offering and what we view as a path towards ‘success’).

      1. LE

        To me there is a an inherit oxymoron as it relates to incubators in that the people startups are best suited for generally are those that are self-driven, figure it out on their own, type of people.I would tend to agree with that statement. However there is almost certainly a class of people that aren’t self starters that benefit from the hand holding that is provided at an incubator. An example would be the inverse, so not a “jack of all trades” but a “master of one” that is lacking skills in the various areas needed to run and/or grow a business.

        1. falicon

          Ideally those are the people who do some form of ‘cofounder dating’ and hook up with the right partners…IMHO that’s when/where the magic *really* starts to happen! 😉

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Good points. Maybe Buffalo would be better off looking for established small & midsized businesses and bribing them to move to Buffalo. I don’t think it can bribe its way into being a tech startup hub though.Those hubs seem to grow organically, around top research universities, sources of capital, or centers of industry.The only business offhand I could see someone from elsewhere wanting to start in Buffalo might be a Great Lakes summer cruise line. A cruise that hit all the major Great Lakes cities might be appealing.

        1. falicon

          Boating season on the great lakes is *very* short (I grew up in Erie, PA which is on the banks of Lake Erie).I do think 5 million in funding is enough to pull in good people with solid potential…so I think they can certainly build more of a startup culture around that much quicker than other places do it organically…but it’s yet to be determined if it will stick (or if people will put their time in there before returning or moving on to other ‘hubs’ once the obligation is up).I spent a decent amount of time in Buffalo throughout my teenage/college years — it’s not a horrible place, but it’s never going to be NYC, San Fran, Boston, or even Boulder…they have to focus on and sell an attribute that is completely unique from anything these other places have to offer (cheap, dedicated, smart, and available labor is what comes to mind when I personally think of it as a potential startup spot).

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Where else can you get free NFL tickets for shoveling snow?

    3. Jenny Tcharnaia

      “43North is a great program but I have heard from people in it that they get no real help in the form of teaching, etc. that is useful once they are there.”We’re one of the winners from last year, and our experiencewith the incubator has been pretty different. 43North gave us a board ofmentors who have really helped us out (especially Thomas Ulbrich at theUniversity of Buffalo CEL,) having made direct introductions to fashion andtechnology companies who are now our clients and partners.Actually right now we’re are going through negotiations witha major client and last night turned to a business partner from our previousstartup, who is now our investor and mentor, for advice. He stayed up with usthrough the night helping us with this difficult client (well, no startup’sfirst few clients are easy by definition.) Given what we have seen so far inBuffalo, we’re sure we’ll find that level of dedicated mentorship here as well.

    4. Dan Magnuszewski

      I agree with failcon’s comments of: “If you go into it looking for education, you are probably not ready to build a successful startup”. I think there’s a big difference between people who are building companies and those wanting to learn how to start a company. I’m in the process of launching a new company, and with it not being my first rodeo, I don’t need tons of schooling/workshops/etc on how to start a company – that’s actually a distraction from building the product, the customers, etc. I also don’t have time for it – I should be doing work. What I need are people with connections, mentors that we can meet with tell them what we’re doing, what we’re planning to do, and get advice and feedback. Accelerators are great for first time entrepreneurs looking to learn what it takes to start a company, but I don’t think that’s 43 North’s target audience. I believe they are looking for people who are ready to build companies.

  12. John Nives

    IBM is building an Advance Technology Center there…will be presenting on developments in Social Technology shortly…let me know at [email protected] if interested in an invitation…

  13. Yinka!

    I heard about it last year. Some of the off-putting aspects were:- The application process takes about a whole year (several stages, spaced apart) vs the typical accelerator application process (apply once and get in or not).- Same equity applied to different funding amounts, thus, arbitrary valuations: Each prize is awarded for 5% equity, so your company could have $20M or $5M (depending on whether you win the $1million or 250k).- Funds are given in tranches – may not be practical, depending on each business’ needs.- Companies must live in Buffalo for 1 year – may/not work for company’s plans or market.- Plus didn’t really see evidence of growth network present, i.e. access to resources to help company achieve next growth milestone.

  14. Ronnie Rendel

    This is the first time I have seen a “business idea” competition. Usually, ideas hold little intrinsic value, and if you don’t have a working product or at least a prototype then you are destined to watch someone else build your dream.I have this problem, I live a product space (execution management) where I am well aware of my needs that are still not filled by current products (and it’s a very active space, maybe the most active). I’m constantly trying new things, and as of yet did not see anyone do what’s on my mind.Problem is I have a day job that pays the bills, and while I code for fun, I don’t have the skills to provide the type of user experience my product demands. And I don’t have spare cash to hire a developer, and the economics of angel investing (assuming I can “sell” someone on an idea, even if it is well developed) make it impractical.In short, I’m surprised and hopeful to see a business idea competition. Yeah, I’m applying.

  15. Steve Poland

    Buffalo is definitely “heating up” (pun intended). I tallied up some national press we’ve been getting, so it’s not just us insiders that live here seeing it:

  16. Jim Rudnick

    Last year, I helped by serving as a Judge for the biz plans and had a ball….it was a lot off work mind you and sometimes judging in channels that were alien to me….yet it was a great way to help 43North — so I’d highly recommend that if you think you’d like to Judge too, to apply for same! 🙂

  17. Tom Hart

    P.s. Not to mention it is a great time to jump on the bandwagon for Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills! Special things happening in Upstate

  18. Kassey

    Just curious. Why is it named 43North? It’s not an address. I could not find any explanation on their website.

    1. JamesHRH


      1. JLM


  19. ZekeV

    Upstate NY is seriously underrated and under-explored in terms of R&D and applied tech output.

  20. Robert Metcalf

    Didn’t expect a gun debate below the fold of a Buffalo NYC incubator post. That is why one must ALWAYS check the comments at!

  21. abolish

    I feel if you’re gonna bet on upstate NY then Rochester is a better pick for a tech incubator. Its got two world class schools, RIT & U of R. Way better for hiring.I’m all for helping Buffalo but it doesn’t help if it doesn’t work.

    1. Stephen Voris

      Here in this bleak city of Rochester,Where there are twenty-seven words for snow,(not all of them polite)……at least we’re not buried as much as Buffalo.(with apologies to Anthony Hecht)

  22. andyswan

    I’m guessing most companies in the “business plan competition” (ugh) phase would gladly give up 5% for 250-1000k

  23. JimHirshfield

    Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

  24. Jordan Thaeler

    Yes, you are giving equity ownership for the investment. Implicit valuation is attached.

  25. Bob Vance

    If they decide to exercise their rights immediately, the only issue I have is with this: “43North would have the right to purchase a 5% interest in each recipient for a nominal amount at any time during the ten (10) years following the date of an award.”

  26. JimHirshfield

    5% of nothin’ is nothin’.For the few big winners in the portfolio, yeah they coulda, shoulda, woulda stayed in NYC or moved to SF, etc. But no Crystle ball here.

  27. Phil Ferneau

    Bigger issue is that this kind of non-dilutable warrant screws up the cap table for future financings. It would almost certainly have to be restructured to a fixed & dilutable warrant for the company to close a financing with any institutional investor.

  28. andyswan

    Agree…it’s a nice provision but seems pretty small for committing to $2m into companies that aren’t even in the market yet. I’d want at least 35%