43North Attracts Diverse Lineup of Entrepreneurs and Startups from Around the Globe Looking to Win Seed Funding and Relocate to Buffalo
Governor Cuomo announced that 3,007 qualified submissions were received for 43North – the world’s largest business idea competition, which concluded its year-two application round on June 24, 2015. This figure represents a 15 percent increase in qualified submissions based on a pool of 11,356 registrants, which was a 64 percent surge over last year. In addition, the 43North year-two application process fielded above-industry-average minority and women registrant participation, and generated more than 20 million social media impressions—compared to 16 million in 2014—that helped drive interest and participation in the competition.
“The huge global response to 43North is a testament to the program, as well as the region,” Governor Cuomo said. “More and more people are finding out that Buffalo is a city on the move and want to be a part of this very exciting chapter in Western New York’s history.”
43North offers $5 million in cash prizes, in the form of one $1 million award, six $500,000 awards and four $250,000 awards. Winners also receive free incubator space for a year, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs, like START-UP NY. Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative is the primary funding source for 43North, with support from the New York Power Authority.
“This competition has again attracted a host of diverse, talented startups from around the world, seeking the possibility of growing their business in Western New York,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “As I mentioned at this year’s 43North application period kickoff event, New York State is pleased to support the creation of jobs, positive attention, and subsequent economic development that this business competition is generating. We look forward to once again watching this exciting startup contest proceed, and are extremely pleased to see an even larger swath of women registrants and those of wide-ranging ethnicities take part.”
The 11,356 registrants (defined as individuals who started or completed the 2015 first round application) enrolled with the competition during a three month entry period, with the 3,007 qualified submissions (teams that met all requirements of the 2015 application process and formally submitted their application) advancing to the first round of judging. The registrant pool included individuals and companies hailing from all 50 states, nine out of ten Canadian provinces, and 117 countries, with representation in various sectors such as information technology, software development, web and mobile technology, professional business services, media and entertainment, e-commerce, healthcare and biotechnology, green and clean technology, advanced manufacturing, agri-business, consumer products and others.
Registrants from the United States encompassed 45 percent of total responses, and of that figure, New York, California, Florida, Texas and Georgia were the states with the highest numbers. From a global perspective, India, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Israel were among the top foreign countries for registrants.
The competition’s ongoing commitment to attracting a diverse registration class generated impressive results, as the numbers of minority and women registrants both more than doubled relative to 2014. Of the 3,007 qualified submissions received, 61 percent of those who submitted acknowledged Asian, African-American, Hispanic or American Indian ethnicity, along with 30 percent white/Caucasian. Additionally, of qualified submissions, 80 percent of team members were male, while 20 percent were female, which is significant, given that the Center for Venture Research states that only 7 percent of annual U.S. venture capital funding is awarded to women (TechRepublic, July 2014).
In December 2014, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) trustees approved $6 million in additional funding for the second year of the 43North competition. The award came from a recommendation by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board (WNYPPAB) to apply the revenues from the sale of unutilized hydropower toward the competition. Additionally, Governor Cuomo allocated $1 million from Empire State Development in February 2015 to further support the competition.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Global attention is focusing on Erie County thanks to the 43 North competition which is attracting top talent from around the world to compete for a chance to join our robust economic mix. Congratulations to all entrants, particularly the minority- and women-owned businesses striving for a startup here in WNY. The creative capital and energy these new endeavors are showcasing will make this a difficult competition but will ultimately lead to a new business making its home in Erie County.”
Mayor Byron Brown stated, “With continued economic growth and increased opportunity for all in Buffalo, our city is more committed than ever to support new opportunities for entrepreneurs who develop innovative start-up ventures that create good jobs for city residents. I appreciate Governor Cuomo’s continued commitment to Buffalo and I look forward to this second round of the 43North business competition, which has once again shined the global spotlight on Buffalo.”
“Western New York’s economy continues to grow because of innovative programs like 43North – efforts that strategically support enterprising companies, small business and the next generation of regional business leaders,” said NYPA Chairman and Erie County resident John. R. Koelmel. “NYPA commends Governor Cuomo for his ongoing investments in Western New York, and we are pleased to provide important seed funding for the winning startups of the second year of the 43North competition.”
“The positive impact of 43North cannot be overstated,” said Empire State Development President & CEO Howard Zemsky. “As part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, this competition has helped put Buffalo on the map for startups as a location to be taken seriously when growing a business or hatching a new idea.”
“Now in its second year, 43North has the stories of eleven winning companies who are successfully tapping into Western New York’s resources to start and expand their businesses,” said Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair and President of the University at Buffalo Satish K. Tripathi. “Governor Cuomo’s commitment to our region has spurred ongoing innovation and job creation, and we now will have another exciting new batch of startups coming to Buffalo later this year.”
“We set out to keep the momentum up and capitalize on a very successful inaugural year, and the 11,356 registrants we engaged proves we did just that, while continuing to inject Buffalo into the global startup conversation,”said 43North Board Chairman Jordan Levy.“Our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is on the rise and the inclusion of another eleven promising startups to Western New York will only help further that cause. I look forward to seeing which exciting startups will advance to the semifinal and final rounds.”
“For the second year in a row, we are thrilled to see a huge response to 43North, and are even more excited about the growth in the overall number of qualified submissions received,” said 43North Executive Director John Gavigan. “I’m also very proud of the fact that we attracted strong responses from minority and women audiences – populations that generally lag behind in venture-funded entrepreneurship.”
To spread the word about the business idea competition and attract registrants from across the country and around the world, 43North organizers embarked on a multi-city roadshow tour to engage out-of-market audiences. Cities on the outreach list included Austin, Columbus, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Chicago, Boulder, Denver, Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Boston.
In addition to the roadshow stops, representatives from supportive entities acted as 43North ambassadors and helped share competition information during visits to Canada, India, Europe, and the tech-startup Collision Conference in Las Vegas. Public relations and marketing activities supported the overall outreach efforts and included online video creation, blog placements, ongoing interaction with business media, a vigorous social media campaign, and direct prospect telephone and email engagement. An important effort was also made to engage and inform minorities and women business owners regarding 43North and overall startup development. To that end, 43North representatives, including Angel Davis and Lauren Washington from 2014 winner KeepUp, attended various events such as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in Atlanta and Think Big, an event in Buffalo.
A breakdown of the application and judging process is as follows:
- March 25 – June 24, 2015: 3,007 qualified submissions from a pool of 11,356 registrants were received via the competition’s website, 43North.org. The purpose of Round 1 was for applicants to provide a vision for their venture, including their business concept, target customers, industry overview, competitive landscape and revenue potential.
- Summer 2015:43North will announce its semifinalists, who will be asked to complete a more in-depth online application and then present their business ideas to a team of 43North judges via a videoconference.
- October 29, 2015:43North’s 11 finalists will pitch their business ideas in-person in front of a high-profile panel of judges at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. That same day, 43North will hold its awards ceremony to announce which awards its finalists will receive. 43North Week – a celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation in Buffalo – will take place over the course of the week that precedes the finals.
43North is the world’s largest business idea competition. As part of Governor Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, the competition awards $5 million in cash prizes to some of the best entrepreneurs and startups from around the world. 43North winners also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. 43North operates through grants of $6 million from the New York Power Authority and $1 million from Empire State Development. Additional support comes from National Grid, Orange Capital, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Buffalo Office Interiors and several other sponsors. For a full list of sponsors and more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.