Prominent business leaders and venture capitalists will determine winner of $1 million top prize
43North has announced its lineup of finals judges for the finalist pitch session of the world's largest ($5 million) business idea competition, which will take place as part of "43North Week" Oct. 30 at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. The volunteer finals judges will evaluate all 11 of the competition's finalists as each of the startup companies pitches ideas onstage before several hundred invited guests and members of the public, culminating in the selection of a $1 million grand prize winner, as well as six $500,000 and four $250,000 awardees.
"Within the world of startups and capital, you'd be hard-pressed to find as respected a group of experts as 43North's finals judges," said Jordan Levy, 43North steering committee chairman and SoftBank Capital general partner. "The audience at Shea's Performing Arts Center is in for a treat on Oct. 30 when these judges review some of finest business ideas from around the world."
"Anyone who invests knows that having the right people on a team is critical. When it comes to 43North's finals judges, they have the right people - leaders from their fields with decades in collective startup expertise," said Daniel Lewis, co-founder of Orange Capital. "Orange Capital is very pleased to be a gold sponsor of 43North and we look forward to seeing who the finals judges select for 43North's inaugural $1 million grand prize winner."
"I am proud to be on such a strong panel of finals judges for 43North," said Bijan Sabet, general partner of Spark Capital. "Beside me will be some of best minds in entrepreneurship and venture capital, and I look forward to sharing the stage with them on Oct. 30 in Buffalo."
The 43North finals judges for 2014 include:
Esther Dyson (Twitter @edyson)
Chairman, EDventure Holdings - New York City
Esther Dyson is principal of EDventure Holdings, and focuses on investing in and nurturing t-ups, with a focus on health, human capital and aerospace. Most recently, she founded HICCup (Health Initiative Coordinating Council), dedicated to fostering and measuring the impact of critical-density health programs. Its first project is the "Way to Wellville," a five-year, five-metric challenge to five communities (including Niagara Falls) to dramatically improve the health of their residents. A published author, cosmonaut and investor, Dyson's past investments have included Medstory, Powerset, Flickr, del.icio.us, Brightmail, Vizu, Basis Science and Eventful. She is an active board member for a variety of companies, including 23andMe, Luxoft, Meetup, NewspaperDirect, PA Consulting, Personal Inc., Voxiva, XCOR Aerospace and Yandex.
David Hohn, M.D.
President emeritus and executive director of health policy, Roswell Park Cancer Institute - Buffalo
Dr. David Hohn is president emeritus and executive director of health policy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, as well as a renowned voice on national health policy issues, especially as they relate to cancer research, treatment and the training of the next generation of cancer specialists. Hohn previously served as the 12th president and CEO of RPCI, and also held the position of vice president for patient care at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Hohn is a former chairman of the board of directors of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 21 of the world's leading cancer centers, and currently serves on that organization's executive committee. In 2007, Hohn was appointed vice chair of the New York Stem Cell board and is playing a leading role in planning the hematology/oncology unit for the new Children's Hospital facility in Buffalo.
Randall Lane (Twitter @RandallLane)
Editor, Forbes Magazine - New York City
Randall Lane is Editor of Forbes Magazine and has instituted The Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy and the Under 30 Summit. He previously worked at Forbes in a variety of positions including reporter, staff writer, and Washington bureau chief from 1991-97. He was the author of five cover stories. Most recently, Lane was editor-at-large at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Lane also co-founded and served as editor-in-chief of six magazines, including P.O.V. (Adweek's "Startup of the Year"), Trader Monthly and Dealmaker. He is a frequent television commentator and the author of "The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade Wall Street Went Insane."
Kenneth Lerer (Twitter @KenLerer)
Managing director, Lerer Hippeau Ventures - New York City
Kenneth Lerer is a managing director at Lerer Hippeau Ventures, focusing primarily on consumer technologies. Previously, he was the chairman and co-founder of The Huffington Post. Lerer is currently the chairman of Buzzfeed, Betaworks and is a co-founder of NowThis Media. He is also chairman emeritus of the Public Theater in New York City and serves on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations, including Association to Benefit Children (ABC), and the Bank Street College of Education.
Kim Pegula (Twitter @PegulaSE)
President and CEO, Pegula Sports & Entertainment - Boca Raton, Florida, and Buffalo
Kim Pegula is president and CEO of Pegula Sports & Entertainment. She oversees all aspects of the 12 sports and entertainment subsidiaries that make up the multifaceted parent company. PSE, which was founded by Pegula and her husband, Terry, has a diverse portfolio of properties, including professional sports teams such as the NFL's Buffalo Bills and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, a Nashville-based country music label and studio, a high-performance athlete training facility, as well as large-scale sports and entertainment venues.
Darrin M. Redus, Sr.
Founder, president and CEO, MainStreet Inclusion Advisors LLC - Independence, Ohio
Darrin M. Redus Sr., a national thought leader and practitioner in inclusion-based entrepreneurship and economic development, is founder, president and CEO of MainStreet Inclusion Advisors LLC. MSIA is a national advisory and entrepreneurial development organization specializing in connecting and preparing underserved populations for high-growth entrepreneurship and the emerging innovation economy. Prior to MSIA, Redus served for more than seven years as chief economic inclusion officer for JumpStart Inc., a nationally recognized nonprofit entrepreneurial development organization assisting high-growth startup companies with technical assistance and equity capital, while informing similar organizations and strategies in regions across the country.
Bijan Sabet (Twitter @bijan)
General partner, Spark Capital - Boston
Bijan Sabet has been a general partner at Spark Capital since the firm's inception. He led the investment in Twitter in early 2008 and served on the Twitter board of directors from 2008-11. Sabet also led investments in Tumblr (acquired by Yahoo!), Jelly, Crowdrise, Trello, Sincerely (acquired by Liberty Interactive Corp.), Stack Exchange, RunKeeper, Foursquare, Boxee (acquired by Samsung), OMGPOP (acquired by Zynga) and thePlatform (acquired by Comcast). Prior to joining Spark, Sabet held senior business development and product management roles at several startup companies, including GameLogic (acquired by Scientific Games), Moxi Digital (acquired by Digeo) and WebTV Networks (acquired by Microsoft). He also served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Charles River Ventures.
"With nearly 7,000 applications from 96 countries and all 50 states, 43North is helping to put Western New York's entrepreneurial ecosystem on the map, and the New York Power Authority is proud to fund the competition through a $5.4 million grant. I look forward to hearing the experienced, global perspectives of 43North's esteemed finals judges when they review the pitches of 43North's finalists on Oct. 30," said New York Power Authority Chairman and Erie County resident John R. Koelmel.
For more information on "43North Week," or to register and attend the 43North finalist pitch session and awards ceremony, click here.
A total of 6,932 business ideas were initially submitted for the 43North competition's first round, which took place Feb. 5 through May 31. From a pool of 2,603 qualified submissions, 113 semifinalists were selected to advance to the second round through a formal, month-long review period conducted by more than 269 judges from an array of professional sectors. Eleven finalists advanced to the third and final round of the competition and will vie for a series of cash prizes, including a top award of $1 million, six $500,000 awards and four $250,000 awards. All winners will be required to locate their companies in Buffalo for one year under the terms of the competition.
The New York Power Authority, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" initiative, and Launch NY are 43North's primary and founding sponsors. Additional support comes from National Grid, Orange Capital, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Buffalo Office Interiors, Perfect Sense, Larkin Development Group, Superior Group, Rich Products Corp., M&T Bank, Delaware North Companies, Phillips Lytle LLP, The Buffalo News, SoftBank Capital, Bright Buffalo Niagara, Buffalo Niagara Partnership and others. See a complete list at www.43north.org/43north-sponsors.
To learn more, visit www.43north.org.