February 5, 2014
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces the Launch of America's Largest Business Plan Competition

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the largest business competition in the United States. Details for the Buffalo, New York competition, as well as its new brand, 43North (www.43North.org), were revealed at a press conference at One Canalside, a newly rehabilitated building overlooking the transformative new construction along Buffalos waterfront. Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy was on site to make the announcement. The competitionnamed after the latitudinal line that runs through Western New Yorkfeatures $5 million in cash prizes, with a top prize of $1 million, and is part of Governor Cuomos Buffalo Billion initiative, which is driving new economic opportunities throughout Buffalo and Western New York.


As the next step of the Buffalo Billion investment, we are launching an exciting business competition that will be the largest in the nation to attract promising start-up ventures and innovators from around the world to Western New York, Governor Cuomo said. We are calling entrepreneurs to pitch their business plan to us, and in response, we will provide mentoring and other services to help turn their idea into what can potentially be a real business. 43North is a win-win for both aspiring entrepreneurs and the region, providing important capital to winners of the competition and creating new economic opportunities for Western New York.


A few short months ago, we were here in Buffalo to announce the completion of this beautifully redeveloped former state office building, Lieutenant Governor Duffy said. Today, we are seeing huge news for Buffalo: the biggest business competition in the nation, right here at One Canalside. I applaud Governor Cuomo's commitment to Western New York, and look forward to seeing Buffalo's continued growth and success that stems from this initiative.


For the past decade, Buffalo has slowly and steadily been on the move you can see it in our skyline, in new, burgeoning neighborhoods like the Medical Campus and Larkinville, and in the organic growth of our business community with exemplary leadership from Eric Reich of Campus Labs, George Chamoun of Synacor and Ashok Subramanian of Liazon, said 43North Steering Committee Chairman Jordan Levy. Our city is ready for the next phase in growth and development. Im excited to be part of the movement that is bringing entrepreneurs to our community and making Buffalo a place where startups are welcomed and encouraged.


43North is designed to systematically generate new business ventures in Western New York, while providing mentoring and other aid for aspiring entrepreneurs; supporting early-stage firm growth; and attracting additional venture funding. The objective of this bold and proven approach is to position Upstate New York and the Greater Buffalo Niagara region squarely on the map of Americas newest innovation and entrepreneurship hotbeds.


In addition to the top cash prize of $1 million, 43North will award six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes. 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.


43North is open to applicants ages 18 and over from anywhere in the world in any industry, with the exception of retail and hospitality. Winners must agree to operate their business in Buffalo, New York for a minimum of one year.


The competition will be broken down into three rounds, with each round being judged independently of one another.

  • Round 1 (February 5 May 31): applications from prospective businesses will be accepted via the competitions website, 43North.org. The purpose of Round 1 is for applicants to provide a vision for their venture, including their business concept, target customers, industry overview, competitive landscape and revenue potential. This submission is not intended to be as comprehensive as a detailed business plan, but should provide the judges with a summary of the major elements of the venture.
  • Round 2 (September 15 September 20): the semifinalists will present further detail on their plan, along with a 10-minute online presentation to 43Norths judging panel, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The plans put forward in Round 2 will include the ventures business concept, value proposition, competitive analysis, communication and distribution channels, client relationships, key stakeholders, resources and activities, cost structure, revenue streams and financial considerations.
  • Round 3 (October 27 October 31): the final stage of the competition is for finalist teams to pitch their business in person to a panel of judges in Buffalo. Each team will have 10 minutes to sell their business idea, followed by 10 minutes of questions. Teams will be assessed on overall organization of the presentation; the teams ability to sell the idea and need for the company; the teams ability to defend the plan and be responsive to questions; and the quality of the overall plan. The competition concludes with the selection of winners and celebrations.


43North.org will provide applicants with the information needed for the competition, and will feature competition details such as staff, funding and mentor resources, as well as news, updates, videos, social media sharing capabilities, and information about living and working in Western New York.


To spread the word about the competition and attract applicants from across the country and around the world, 43North is embarking on an aggressive roadshow that will include stops in 12 U.S. cities, southern Ontario, India, China and Israel.


Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the efforts of local business leaders Jordan Levy and Howard Zemsky, Buffalo will now be home to the nations largest business plan competition of its kind, said 43North Executive Director Andrew Pulkrabek. As a result, Buffalo stands to be the beneficiary of new innovation, industry and jobs from bright minds across the U.S. and around the world. This competition will also help grow Buffalos entrepreneurial economy for years to come.


To create the type of entrepreneurial ecosystem that is required to attract the best and brightest business minds, we needed to raise the stakes and design a contest that will go above and beyond some of the traditional financial offerings of previous competitions, said Howard Zemsky, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair and Managing Partner at Larkin Development Group. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the New York Power Authority, we now have the means to make Buffalo a more competitive city in the world of startups. 43North will attract entrepreneurial champions who have the ability to invigorate the existing business community and attract future startups to the Western New York region.


This competition builds on the strengths of the Western New York Region by inviting and encouraging ideas that will ultimately result in job creation, said Satish K. Tripathi, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair and President of the University at Buffalo. The winners will be coming to Buffalo at an exciting time of growth and economic revival. This is a tremendous opportunity for the best and brightest startup minds to be a part of the renaissance.


In May 2013, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) trustees approved $5.4 million in funding for the international business plan competition. The award came from a recommendation by the WNY Power Proceeds Allocation Board (WNYPPAB) to apply the revenues from the sale of unutilized hydropower toward the concept of a competition. These funds were subsequently committed to the non-profit Launch NY for management of the competition and eventual distribution of funds.


Governor Cuomo has spared no effort to spur conditions for unleashing Western New Yorks great economic potential, as demonstrated by his Buffalo Billion initiative and the 43North Global Business Plan Competition, said John R. Koelmel, chairman, New York Power Authority. The Power Authority is proud to be supporting these efforts, including the funding that were providing to make the 43North business plan competition a reality from proceeds obtained from the sale of unutilized Niagara hydropower.


With $2.2 billion in new economic development activity currently underway in Buffalo, Im excited to see this $5 million business plan competition attract creative ideas that turn into funded, high growth enterprises that spur even more investment and job growth for city residents, said Mayor Byron W. Brown. This competition, part of Governor Cuomos Buffalo Billion initiative, heightens Buffalos visibility on the business radar, providing us with another great opportunity to showcase our city as a vibrant place to live, work and invest because of Buffalos improved fiscal condition, diverse economy, skilled workforce and safe neighborhoods.


Four full-time staff members plus a steering committee chaired by Jordan Levy will lead 43North. Staff members include Andrew Pulkrabek, Executive Director; Peter Burakowski, Senior Marketing Manager; Jon Spitz, Operations Manager; and Christa Vidaver, Events Manager. The committee is comprised of local leaders in business and investment, including Howard Zemsky of the Larkin Development Group, Scott Friedman of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, Ron Schreiber of Softbank Capital, David Zebro of Strategic Investments & Holdings, Inc., and Sharon Randaccio of Performance Management Partners Inc. 43North will operate from Z80 Labs at One News Plaza.


About 43North


43North is Americas largest business idea competition, with $5 million in cash awards, including a top prize of $1 million, to attract the best new business ideas from around the globe to Buffalo, New York. This ambitious initiative is part of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomos historic pledge of $1 billion in state funding to ignite economic growth in the Buffalo Niagara region.