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ACV Auction wins: Cuomo announces $1 million 43North grand prizewinner


Mon, Nov 2nd 2015 01:35 pm

ACV Auction wins 43North's grand prize; 10 remaining finalists receive prizes of $500,000 or $250,000 to invest in their startup businesses in Buffalo

Competition draws worldwide attention to Buffalo's entrepreneurial community for second straight year

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced ACV Auction as the winner of the $1 million grand prize from 43North - the world's largest business idea competition.

For the second straight year, 43North awarded a total of $5 million in cash prizes. In addition to the $1 million prize, the competition awarded six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes during its finals awards ceremony at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

43North's winners will also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. The awards ceremony capped a day that also featured 43North's 11 finalist teams pitching their business ideas and answering questions from an all-star panel of finals judges.

"For the second year in a row, 43North has proven to be a successful tool in showcasing the opportunities that Buffalo has to offer," Cuomo said. "I congratulate all of 43North's finalists, especially our grand prizewinner, ACV Auction, and I am proud to welcome another group of promising companies to Buffalo's re-energized economic landscape. We will continue to partner our next generation of entrepreneurs and startups with Western New York's assets to make Buffalo a leader in tomorrow's industries and keep this region on the move."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said, "Through this competition, these businesses are given the opportunity of a lifetime. Gov. Cuomo continues to deliver on his 'Buffalo Billion' promise, and is making the city a destination for some of the world's most innovative thinkers and ambitious entrepreneurs. I congratulate all of our 43North winners and look forward to their contributions to the booming economic momentum spurred by the 'Buffalo Billion.' "

The awards ceremony was a culmination of the second annual 43North Week, a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship that ran from Oct. 21-29 in Buffalo and featured events and activities that engaged entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists, angel investors and the general Western New York business community.

Between March 25 and June 24, 43North received 11,356 registrations from around the world. From a pool of 3,007 qualified submissions, 110 teams were selected to participate in the competition's semifinals. Eleven finalists advanced to the final round of the competition to 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.

Finalists presented their pitches Thursday to a panel of seven high-profile judges from around the country, including: Andrew Kau, managing director (U.S.), Walden International; Michael Lazerow, founder, Buddy Media; Daniel Lewis, founding partner, CIO, managing partner, project manager, Orange Capital LLC; Lauren Maillian, founder, CEO, LMB Group; Sandra Miller, Open Innovation, Accenture; Lacarya Scott, CFO, Empire Genomics; and Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder, CEO, VaynerMedia.

43North Board Chair Jordan Levy said, "Since its inception in 2014, 43North has set out to identify world-class entrepreneurs from around the globe and attract them to Buffalo. For the second straight year, we have done just that. I congratulate all of our winners on rising to the top of more than 11,000 registrants from 117 countries and all 50 U.S. states. We look forward to watching these exceptional leaders and their companies flourish, while making their mark on our Western New York community."

The New York Power Authority provided 43North grants of $5.4 million in 2014 and $6 million in 2015. Last month, the NYPA trustees approved $6 million in funding for a third year of the competition, which will commence in early 2016.

NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel said, "It is incredible to see how much the 43North competition has achieved in just two years. The New York Power Authority is honored to play an important part in funding this competition, and we look forward with great excitement to watching these 11 winners find success in Western New York.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Cuomo, the 43North business competition is thriving and will continue to attract top talent to Western New York. Congratulations to all 11 winners - this is another historic day for Buffalo."

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of the University at Buffalo Satish K. Tripathi said, "Once again, this competition clearly demonstrates to the nation and the world that Buffalo is open for business. Gov. Cuomo's 'Buffalo Billion' initiative has put Buffalo on the map. As a center of innovation and entrepreneurship, Buffalo is increasingly becoming the destination of choice for businesses and entrepreneurs. We welcome this year's winners to Buffalo, and look forward to working with each of them to help realize their business dreams.

Jeff Belt, WNYREDC co-chair said, "We have seen how 43North can invigorate Western New York's entrepreneurial ecosystem. We look forward to seeing how this winners will build on that success."

•$1 million winner: ACV Auctions of Buffalo: ACV Auctions is a live, wholesale marketplace for dealer-only automobile auctions. Conducted via a smartphone application, ACV Auctions creates liquidity for wholesale inventory (trade-ins and aged automobiles) 24 hours a day. An intuitive five-minute process of snapping pictures and drafting a vehicle description launches an auction to hundreds of registered buyers.

Six $500,000 winners:

  • Painless1099 of Richmond, Virginia: Painless1099 opens "smart bank accounts" for freelance professionals to automate withholding, saving for, and paying state and federal taxes.
  • Uma Bioseed of Ithaca: Uma Bioseed has developed a patented, enzyme-based, organic seed-treatment solution that protects agricultural seeds from pathogens (virus, bacteria and fungus) both on and around the seed throughout the critical germination phase, enabling the possibility of significantly enhanced crop yields and greater food security.
  • CleanSlate of Toronto: The "CleanSlate" ultra violet system is a tabletop rapid device sanitizer for improved infection control. It sanitizes smartphones, tablets, glucometers, thermometers and a range of other portable electronics using UV light. Using RFID tags, the "CleanSlate" provides infection control staff with accurate compliance data on device sanitization reports.
  • Cytocybernetics of North Tonawanda: Cytocybernetics has developed novel technology to improve drug safety screening. It aims to ensure new drugs brought to market do not cause cardiac arrhythmias as a side effect. This technology will increase the speed and reliability with which pharmaceutical companies can navigate the FDA approval process for all new drugs.
  • Voiceitt of Jerusalem, Israel: Voiceitt's product, Talkitt, aims to revolutionize the way people who have speech disabilities due to various motor, speech and language disabilities, communicate, enabling them to use the most natural means there is: their own voice. 
  • Disease Diagnostic Group of Boston: DDG is focused on screening, tracking and diagnosing highly infectious diseases that benefit from ultra-low cost and rapid early-stage diagnosis, potentially saving millions. Its platform technology has yielded portable and reusable devices capable of quantitatively assessing diseases from a drop of blood - in one-minute - at ultra-low costs.

Four $250,000 winners:

  • Plum.io of Waterloo (Ontario): Plum is a turnkey cloud software solution using modern behavioral science and predictive analytics to instantly identify high-potential job applicants for success and fit. The results are scientifically matched up to an employer's needs, for each role, creating an invaluable shortlist. 
  • CoachMePlus of Buffalo: CoachMePlus manages data that coaches and athletes use to optimize athletic performance. Athletic teams at all levels use the system to track athlete health, manage workouts and improve game day readiness. Its NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and NCAA clients illustrate its ability to support athletes, coaches and front-office personnel.
  • GetGems of Tel Aviv, Israel: GetGems is the first digital currency startup to link mobile payments on the blockchain with a social networking platform. Unlike other messaging apps that offer payment functionality, GetGems reaches beyond those currently banked to those without a bank account or debit card. Blockchain technology enables this transfer of value.
  • Qoints of Toronto: Qoints aggregates digital marketing data. As less than 25 percent of brand marketers use data to justify decision-making, Qoints helps brands and agencies evaluate the performance of their digital campaigns by comparing against industry benchmarks.

About 43North

43North is the world's largest business idea competition and awards $5 million in cash prizes to some of the best entrepreneurs and startups from around the world. It operates through the support of Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" initiative and grants of $6 million from NYPA and $1 million from Empire State Development. Additional support comes from National Grid, EY, the State University of New York at Buffalo and several other sponsors. For a full list of sponsors and more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.

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