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$1 million grand-prizewinner of 43North's 7th annual startup competition announced


Fri, Oct 29th 2021 12:50 pm

Top Seedz wins $1 million investment in $5 million startup competition

√ 7 additional companies each receive $500,000 investments

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced the winners of the seventh annual $5 million 43North startup competition, including the grand-prizewinner of a $1 million investment, and the seven other companies that each won investments of $500,000. In addition to the financial investments, the winners will receive one year of free space in the Seneca One, where 43North is headquartered; guidance from experienced mentors; local connections to potential customers; access to 43North's network of investors and other business incentive programs.

The winners were announced during an awards ceremony at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

"Over the past seven years, the 43North startup competition has put Buffalo and the Western New York region on the map for innovation and entrepreneurship," Hochul said. "I want to congratulate Top Seedz on their well-deserved success, as well as commend the hard work and creativity on display at tonight's competition from each and every one of the finalists. Through initiatives like 43North, we are attracting innovative startups to New York state and creating a more prosperous future."

The winners of the 2021 43North competition are:

•Top Seedz – Buffalo – $1,000,000 winner. “Top Seedz makes artisan crackers and roasted seeds packed with nutrition and flavor using the simplest ingredients that nature provides.”

•BetterMynd Inc. – Buffalo – $500,000 winner. “BetterMynd is an online therapy platform for college students. They partner directly with colleges to give their students access to their diverse network of licensed mental health counselors from the privacy and convenience of their laptops and mobile devices.”

•Big Wheelbarrow Inc. – Austin, Texas – $500,000 winner. “Big Wheelbarrow is a SaaS company that enables food distributors and grocery chains to create and maintain decentralized supply chains in order to meet consumer demand for local food profitably, efficiently, and safely.”

•FLOX – The Healthy Chicken Company – London – $500,000 winner. “FLOX – The Healthy Chicken Company is a revenue-generating venture using machine-vision to enable welfare-first farming with initial applications in chicken farming. Their product helps improve chicken health and wellbeing, so farmers operate more ethically, profitably, and sustainably; and better visibility to the entire supply-chain – through to (increasingly conscious) consumers.”

•Infiuss Health – San Jose, California – $500,000 winner. “Infiuss Health is a SAAS platform powering remote research/clinical trials in Africa, by connecting researchers (in industry and academia) to patients, participants in Africa to U.S. and E.U.-based pharmaceutical and life science companies for clinical research and clinical trial studies.”

•ShearShare Inc. – McKinney, Texas – $500,000 winner. “ShearShare is the first B2B mobile marketplace to monetize underutilized assets in the beauty and barbering industry, starting with space to work. Stylists rent suites/stations by the day, week, or occasion with zero contract or commission, and salon, spa and barbershop owners make money on empty space they already have.”

•Zealot Interactive – Arlington, Virginia – $500,000 winner. “Zealot Interactive provides augmented streaming video lessons for musical instruments paired with state-of-the-art optional hardware. They are a ‘Peloton for music.’ The curated marketplace of content is legally compliant with record labels and enables creators to host videos they otherwise would have no ability to license.”

•Verivend – Buffalo – $500,000 winner. “Verivend is the fintech modernizing how businesses do business. A true network, Verivend offers the quickest way available to pay and get paid, zero barrier to entry allowing businesses to transact with all customers and vendors, unbiased reputation transparency, and a digital wallet powering instant B2B and B2C payments.”

43North's winners were selected by the following finals judges:

√ Brian Brackeen, general partner at Lightship Capital

√ Peter Boyce II, founder and managing partner of Stellation Capital

√ Howard Draft, executive chairman at Draftfcb

√ Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief of Inc. Magazine

√ Jackie Reses, chairman of the Economic Development Council at Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

√ Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner of Glasswing Ventures

43North Board Chair Eric Reich said, "Every year, we are blown away by the hustle, talent and innovation demonstrated by the companies competing for a place in the 43North portfolio. We are excited to watch tonight's winners make their mark in Buffalo as they grow their companies and take advantage of the rich resources offered by the city and our program."

43North President Colleen Heidinger said, "The energy in Shea's Performing Arts Center was palpable tonight as the Western New York community turned out to cheer on our incredible finalists. Buffalonians have witnessed firsthand the transformative economic impact achieved by bringing new talent and capital to our region, as evidenced by the support on display tonight. I can't wait to watch the winning companies experience all that our burgeoning startup ecosystem has to offer."

Over the past seven years, 43North has invested in a diverse portfolio of 51 companies, of which 31% have founders of color and 23% have female founders. Nearly half of those companies have maintained a material presence in the Queen City, creating over 800 local jobs. Among the ranks is tech unicorn ACV Auctions, which brought 43North to new heights as its first publicly traded portfolio company, after an IPO on March 24.

43North operates through the support of Hochul, Empire State Development, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.

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