Entrepreneurship, 43North, and Buffalo: A Q&A With Brian Straka

Whether you’ve applied or considered applying to the 43North competition, there’s a good chance you’ve checked out the Frequently Asked Questions page on our website. There you’ll find details about our prize structure, what criteria our judges take into consideration, and eligibility requirements.

So what happens if you become a 43North winner? And what is Buffalo’s startup ecosystem all about?

If you’ve contacted us with questions about the application, you’ve probably talked to Brian Straka, 43North’s Communications Manager. With only 3 weeks left to go in the application period, I sat down with Brian to talk about the questions he’s been getting – beyond the typical FAQs.

What are 3 of the most common questions you receive from applicants?

I get a lot of questions from applicants at various stages in the application process, but the most common questions I get are:

1 – What does the process look like from here on out? What’s the timeline for the rest of the year?

  • June: First round of judging begins
  • July: Semifinalists are notified
  • July & August: Semifinalists will perform virtual live pitches for our judges
  • Late August: Finalists are notified
  • Early October: Finalists will come to Buffalo and compete live for one of our eight cash prizes
  • January 2018: Winners will move into our downtown Buffalo incubator

2 – What stage of development do the applicants need to be in?

  • We accept applicants from startups at any stage of development, and our past winners reflect that. It’s worth noting that our strongest applicants most often are from startups with well-formed teams, have raised funds outside of friends and family, and that see strategic alignment with Buffalo’s strengths.

3 – Could you please explain the relocation to Buffalo requirement?

  • As part of becoming a 43North winner, startups get the opportunity to build a business presence in Buffalo. At least half of the winning company’s employees, plus the CEO, are required to move to Buffalo for a minimum of one year. However, many of our winners choose to stay beyond that!

Have there been any repeat applicants that ultimately became a winner?

Yes! 2015 winner Cytocybernetics was a semifinalist in 2014, and 2016 winner PathoVax was a 2015 alternate winner. So if you’ve applied to 43North in the past, it’s definitely worth applying again!

Explain 43North’s new mentorship program and the importance of mentorship to startups.

Our newly expanded mentorship program is something we’re really excited about. While the $1 million grand prize gets people’s attention (and rightfully so), the mentorship component is oftentimes just as important – if not more so. We meet with each of our winners to help them figure out what they need to accelerate their growth, and we pair them with an adviser who’s best-suited to help them achieve their goals.

These are individuals who have experienced what the startup is going through, and can offer advisement, get them thinking in other ways, and connect them with partners, customers, clients, etc.