Companies win $1 million each in a high-intensity startup showdown – spotlighting revolutionary solutions and products to ignite Western New York’s innovation economy
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the winners of the ninth 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.
A press release stated, “This year’s competitors came from across the country and as far as London to make their best pitch in front of a distinguished panel of judges and a packed house at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Each of the extraordinary winners will relocate their companies to Buffalo and work out of the 43North incubator at Seneca One, bringing new jobs and dynamic ideas to Buffalo’s growing innovation ecosystem.”
Hochul said, “New York is committed to spurring the growth of innovative and creative new startups, and the 43North competition is just one of the ways New York is working to find revolutionary solutions to today’s challenges. I congratulate the five enthusiastic winners who will be bringing their game-changing businesses to Western New York, hiring staff, raising capital, and investing in property and equipment. Thanks to New York's continued investment in 43North, we are adding five new businesses that will only help to amplify Buffalo’s stellar reputation as one of the fastest growing startup cities.”
The winners of the 2023 43North Competition are:
Guidesly – Topsfield, Massachusetts: Guidesly is a vertical SaaS platform serving the $40 billion outdoor recreational guide marketplace with a consumer marketplace.
KAV – Redwood City, California: KAV makes award-winning custom helmets designed to save lives and reduce brain injuries.
Kredit Academy – Miami: Kredit Academy is a comprehensive financial literacy platform offering white-label, credit-based solutions, aimed at empowering consumers, particularly teens and young adults, with knowledge and tools to build sound credit, while also providing financial institutions an effective means of engagement and growth.
Stepwise – Cambridge, Massachusetts: Stepwise makes home electrification, specifically for EV charger and heat pump installations, cost effective for homeowners while futureproofing the electric grid.
StoreCash – San Jose, California: StoreCash is a mobile payment solution for users to pay cheaply and easily via QR codes at now over 200,000 locations, earning maximum cash back at their favorite stores.
43North’s winners were selected by the following Finals Judges:
√ Sutian Dong, partner at Multitudes and co-founder of Global Women in VC
√ David Hall, managing partner at Revolution and its “Rise of the Rest” seed fund
√ Sandra Moore, managing director and chief impact officer at Advantage Capital
√ Yancey Spruill, Buffalo native and CEO of DigitalOcean
√ Jenny Fielding, co-founder and managing partner at Everywhere Ventures
The press release added, “In addition to the $1 million investment, each company receives invaluable mentoring services, access to expertise, office space, and interaction with an extensive network of investors. Over the past nine years, 43North has invested in a diverse, industry portfolio of 64 companies, nearly 60% of which have a continued presence in Buffalo, 46% of which have founders of color and 26% having female founders. Earlier this year, 43North reported that its portfolio companies had collectively created more than 1,100 jobs in Western New York.”
This year, in addition to the five top $1 million awards, a $25,000 People’s Choice award, funded by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, went to Kredit Academy, which the live audience selected by vote.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight, “ESD is very proud to be the driving force for 43North; bringing high-quality startup companies and more than a thousand new jobs to Buffalo. The spotlight now turns to this year’s winners, and we look forward to seeing their innovative ideas generate positive outcomes in a wide array of industries, while also adding to the region’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Chairman of 43North Mike Wisler said, “In our ninth competition, the quality of companies and founders 43North is able to attract was on full display tonight. Congratulations to our five newest winners and welcome to Buffalo to take your companies to the next level!”
President of 43North Colleen Heidinger said, “We are thrilled to add these five promising businesses to our portfolio and welcome the founders as five new residents within our region. As we approach our 10th year, their presence will contribute to the momentum of Buffalo’s burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem, and aid in shaping an enduring, prosperous future for our region.”
The press release concluded, “The success of 43North and its winning businesses has played a major role in putting Buffalo on the map as one of the fastest growing startup cities. The business accelerator is funded by New York state and will be receiving support from Empire State Development to continue operating the high-intensity competitions for at least three more years.”
More About 43North
43North is an accelerator program that hosts an annual startup competition, investing $5 million per year to attract and cultivate high-growth companies in Buffalo. 43North portfolio companies also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. 43North operates through the support of the governor, Empire State Development, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.