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Five $1 million winners of 43North's 8th annual startup competition


Fri, Oct 21st 2022 09:35 am

Companies each win $1 million in high stakes startup showdown – advancing innovation economy in Western New York

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced the winners of the eighth annual 43North Finals, New York state's $5 million startup competition held in Buffalo, in which five companies were each awarded a $1 million investment. In addition to the financial investments, the five winners will relocate their companies to Buffalo and work out of the 43North incubator in the city's tallest skyscraper, Seneca One.

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

"New York has become a model for fostering innovative economic growth and job creation, and programs like 43North provide essential investment and support to the breakthrough companies of tomorrow," Hochul said. "I congratulate the five winning companies for capturing this unique opportunity and look forward to seeing them move to Buffalo, hire staff, raise private capital, and invest in property and equipment. Their work will add to a region that is fast becoming an entrepreneurial powerhouse."

In addition to receiving one year of free space in the building's innovative and collaborative Tech Hub, the winners will also benefit from a pool of local resources, including access to experienced mentors, potential customers, business incentive programs, and 43North's network of over 900 investors.

The winners of the 2022 43North Competition are:

Agape Wellness – Monroe County; founder: Khadesha Okwudili. Agape is a relationship wellness company that uses personalized questions to spark meaningful conversations.

AMPAworks – Santa Monica, California; founder: Bianca Gonzalez. AMPAworks is a camera that uses computer vision A.I. in order to have full inventory visibility in pharmacies, medical device companies, surgery centers, clinics and hospitals.

Mod Tech Labs – Austin, Texas; founder: Alexandria Porter. MOD helps enterprise companies create universal 3-D content at scale by digitizing the real world using photos.

Otrafy – Chicago; founder: Nhat Nguyen. Otrafy is an AI-powered SaaS supplier management platform with the ability to automate compliance and identify risks.

Phood – New York City; founder: Alex Parmley. Phood integrates with universities' card services to create a connection between students' flex dollar accounts and the gig economy.

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

√ Mac Conwell II, founder and managing partner, RareBreed Ventures

√ Sara Garson, managing director, Madison 25; cofounder and COO, Coterie

√ Gary Ginsberg, author, First Friends, Buffalo native, experienced LP in NY funds

√ Taryn Jones Laében, president and founder, IRL Ventures

√ Ben Lerer, managing partner, Lerer Hippeau

43North Chairman Mike Wisler said, "Every year, we are humbled by the talent, drive and innovation of the entrepreneurs that come to our city to compete for a spot in the 43North portfolio. We are excited to welcome these new leaders to Buffalo and support them in achieving their entrepreneurial goals while building and scaling in our city."

43North President Colleen Heidinger said, "The word is out about Buffalo as a place to establish your business: We received over double the number of entries this year for this competition, and we're all witnessing firsthand the successes of the 43North portfolio. In turn, these high-growth companies are bringing new opportunities to our region for everyone. We're excited to share this journey with our year 8 cohort and welcome them to the Buffalo community."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight, "ESD is very proud of the founding role it played since 43N's inception. We knew there was a burgeoning community of entrepreneurs who dreamed of future success, but needed help to make it a reality. ESD's funding has played a critical role lifting Buffalo's national reputation as a hub for high-tech innovation by investing in 43North and every company that has won our startup competition."

The competition is part of New York state's Buffalo Billion initiative with funding supported by the New York Power Authority. Over the past seven years, 43North has invested in a diverse, industry agnostic portfolio of 59 companies, 44% of which have founders of color and 28% having female founders. Earlier this year, 43North reported that its portfolio companies had collectively created more than 1,000 jobs in Western New York. Over 60% of 43North's portfolio maintains a material presence in Buffalo.

For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.

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