Bill Rader | Forbes

In the past, people looked only at Silicon Valley and Boston as the hot beds for start-ups – but as the great Bob Dylan once sang “the times, they are a changin”


For the third year in a row, Buffalo New York is going to be abuzz with the excitement that only a $5 million dollar business contest can bring.

43North week starts the last week of this month (Oct 23rd, 2016). For those in the startup world who have not been paying attention, this is a huge thing.

The biggest purse payout in business start-up $5,000,000, and all you have to do is move to Buffalo for a year to collect. That along with a purchase warrant of 5%, and a whole lot of cash can be yours to grow and nurture your start-up.

Since the first year of the contest, Buffalo has attracted a lot of interest. Steve Case’s Rise of The Rest” tour made a stop and left behind $200,000 in investment capital, taking their originally promised $100,000 and having it matched by local investors at Z80 Labs.

Two start-ups benefited from Steve Case’s stop, Energy Intelligence (a 43North winner from 2014) and Pop Biotech.

Other venture and investment executives have also come to take a peak at what is brewing in the city due to all of the great start-up buzz here.

My 43 North Experience

In 2014 I was a winner in the competition. It was the inaugural year of the contest and little information was available to potential applicants other than a pile of cash and a move to, of all places, Buffalo, NY.

I was living in Arizona and the thought of a snowy winter quickly diminished with the warm thoughts of a potential $1,000,000 to supercharge my efforts with Efferent Labs.

There wasn’t a lot of information or communication from the contest organizers in 2014, but that has all changed.  The 43North competition was just a start-up  itself back then.  Today there is a lot of information as well as past winners to talk to about their experiences.

When I was notified I was a finalist that year, I knew I had already won at least a quarter-million dollars just for showing up. That has changed this year, as the lowest prize is a half million dollars – but there is a hitch.

Like in the ABC hit show Shark Tank, this year you can walk out without any money.

(L-R) Hosts Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Executive Producer Clay Newbill of ‘Shark Tank’ speak onstage during the ABC portion of the 2013 Winter TCA Tour at Langham Hotel on January 10, 2013 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

As many as sixteen companies are vying for 8 prizes. Six $500K, a second place prize of $600K and the grand prize of $1MM.

There is also an available $400k in follow-on funds that will be available should you meet milestones and show great promise and as much love for the community as they show you – and I can attest to a lot of love by the community showered on me and my company.

So much so, that after the one year commitment, I chose to stay in Buffalo at the end of my commitment in 2015.

Follow me throughout the month of October as I chronicle this year’s competition from an insider’s viewpoint. I will be a winner rooting for the new guys’ success, and hoping they will find the same successes in Buffalo I have.

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