How Tribeca Venture Partners came to invest in a Buffalo startup

Have you heard the one about how Buffalo needs to attract outside capital?

That thought spans many local conversations, from real estate to manufacturing to technology. That’s why it’s notable that ACV Auctions’ recent $5 million Series A raise was led by Tribeca Venture Partners, a Manhattan-based venture capital firm run by experienced investors Brian Hirsch and Chip Meakem.

The volume of angel investments into Buffalo-based startups has increased in recent years – but it’s still rare to see outside institutional investment. When it does happen, it usually has something to do with Buffalo’s wealth of talent in engineering ( see: Sentient Science’s $17 million raise) or biomedicine ( Athenex and this $75 million round).

ACV, meanwhile, is rooted in the general software/digital startup ecosystem that revolves around the 43North/Z80 Labs incubator space and which exists specifically to spark scalable companies in Buffalo.

Now with a round led by Tribeca, ACV is in the big leagues.

“If we don’t think there’s an opportunity to become a billion dollar company in terms of value, then we won’t touch it,” Hirsch told Business First. “Philosophically, that’s how we’re engineered.”

Tribeca has raised two funds, including a $65 million debut and a second $107 million fund earlier this year, according to this TechCrunch article, the second of which is being used to back ACV. Most of Tribeca’s investments are focused on New York City startups, and ACV represents the first time the firm has ventured into either Central or Western New York.

Hirsch acknowledged there can be advantages to being a startup in a place like Buffalo – specifically the ability to attract and retain top talent and low real estate costs – but said geography is at most a secondary concern for Tribeca. Instead, it’s all about the deal.

“We go where there are big ideas and big opportunities and teams we believe in,” he said.

Hirsch was introduced to the ACV opportunity through SoftBank Capital, which is run by Buffalo residents Jordan Levy and Ronald Schreiber. He said Tribeca expects to make follow-on investments in its portfolio companies as they hit milestones.

“It’s about getting them to further proof points,” he said. “We make sure we’re reserving follow-on capital for future rounds so I view this as our first check to ACV.”

Levy said Tribeca’s investment is an important moment in Buffalo’s startup world – and will shine further light on the opportunities that exist here.

“It’s a well-respected, well-known fund with a great portfolio,” he said. “We’re attracting high quality funds from the outside to look at our companies.”

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