Illuminating Buffalo’s Startup Scene: Bright Buffalo Niagara

What happens when 22 ambitious startups gather together with investors, local business leaders and academics? A brilliant event.

On Wednesday, June 28, some of the best and brightest startups from Western New York gathered at the 2017 Bright Buffalo Niagara Entrepreneur Expo to compete for cash prizes and some other awesome perks.

Get a taste of the event here:

Five finalists – GapGrid, NanoHydroChem, Rachel’s Remedy and two 2016 43North Winners (HigherMe and WeDidIt) – were asked to pitch in front of five judges, comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and advisors, for the chance to win the $20,000 grand prize.

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2016 43North Winner, WeDidIt, pitching for the $20,000 grand prize.

After deliberation from the judges, Rachel’s Remedy won the $20,000 grand prize, along with an automatic pass into the 43North Semifinals and a chance to pitch at an upcoming UVANY event. Rachel’s Remedy is a company that sells the only FDA-approved moist heat pack for breastfeeding mothers to alleviate the painful symptoms that can occur when breastfeeding their children. To learn more about Rachel’s Remedy, listen to Latitude, the 43North Podcast where we spoke with founder Rachel Jackson on her path to entrepreneurship!

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Seventeen additional startups had the opportunity to pitch for a $5,000 People’s Choice Award, voted upon by the audience using the Bestest app (Bestest also happens to be a Western New York startup and was a finalist at the Expo). The People’s Choice Award was given to SweetSpot, a startup that uses AI technology to track parking availability based on the driver’s location in real time.

During the course of the day, Invest Buffalo Niagara COO and longtime Buffalo startup scene champion Jenna Kavanaugh was recognized as the 2017 Bright Buffalo Niagara Partner of the Year Award.

Frans Johansson was the keynote speaker for the evening. A renowned expert on innovation and diversity, Johansson shared that success arises at the intersections of culture, knowledge and chance.

Three key pieces of advice that Frans gave to the entrepreneurs in the room were:

  • Always look for opportunities to change the rules of the game”
  • “Surprise is a leading indicator of innovation”
  • “The world is connected, but only because there is someone out there making those connections. And it should be you.”

Bright Buffalo Niagara put on another great event that brought entrepreneurs together, and 43North was proud to be a sponsor of the 2017 Entrepreneur Expo. Learn more about Bright Buffalo Niagara here.