What criteria will judges use to score my application?

Judges will score each application based on the following criteria:

  • Overall strength of the team – We look for founder(s) and a team that are uniquely qualified to solve the problem their company is addressing.  
  • Team’s knowledge of the market – We look for companies that target a large addressable market, led by founder(s) with years of industry expertise and/or personal experience.
  • Viability of the product/service/technology – We look for products/services/technologies that address a unique need in the market and are superior to their competitors.
  • Product relative to the target market – We look for companies that have strong evidence of product/market fit and address a significant need in the market.
  • Revenue and financing plans – We look for companies that have revenue or a clear path to revenue in the next 12 months, as well as investment outside of friends and family contributions.

What stage of startup company do you accept into 43North?

43North typically invests in pre-seed and seed stage startups – those that have already raised third-party capital before our competition, and have revenue or a clear path to revenue within the next 12 months. We’ve invested earlier and later, but this is our sweet spot.

Our mentorship and programming is catered specifically towards helping portfolio companies scale their sales, marketing and fundraising operations, so we’re looking for companies that have some serious skin in the game and proven traction.

When can I enter?

The application period is open until July 8, 2019. However, our judges like you better (and have more time to review your application) if you apply early, so our Preferred Deadline is June 12, 2019 at 9pm ET.

Why should I enter 43North?

Does an investment of up to $1 million sound good to you? How about mentorship, incubator space, recruiting and marketing support, connections to investors, and an opportunity for follow-on funding? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Need some more convincing? Check out this blog post.

How do I enter?

Get started on your 43North application here. The final application deadline is July 8, 2019 at 9pm ET.

Does 43North take equity in my startup if I am one of the winners?

Yes. 43North takes a 5% equity stake in each winning company. You can read up on the Award Agreement here.

Does my startup need to relocate to Buffalo, New York if I receive investment?

Our winners are required to relocate 50% of their staff and their CEO to Buffalo for a minimum of 12 months. Please note that commuting does not count as relocation – you are required to have a residence within a 30-mile radius of the Niagara Power Project. But don’t worry, we offer lots of programming and activities to get you rooted in our community!

In addition to the investment, 43North winners receive free incubator space in Buffalo, mentorship from experts related to their fields, and access to other exciting incentive programs. Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information.

If I am one of the winners, how soon does my company need to locate to Buffalo, NY?

Our next class of winners will set up shop in Buffalo in January, 2020.

Can I enter 43North if I am not from Buffalo, New York?

Yes! 43North is open to applicants from anywhere in the world, and we’ve had companies from as far away as Israel and Taiwan receive investment.

Do you accept solo founders?

We do accept solo founders, but please understand that our expectations will be as high (if not higher) than that of companies with multiple founders. You will need to prove that you have a diverse skill set to handle all facets of a business, that you are resilient during the toughest challenges, and that you are committed to building a strong team around you in Buffalo. We’ve had teams with one founder succeed tremendously in our program, so it definitely can be done! Just know that we will set the bar higher for you, as we understand the ups and downs of growing a startup – especially when you have a small team.

Is there a cost to apply?

If you apply by the Preferred Deadline of June 12, the cost is $50. Applications submitted after June 12 have a cost of $100.

Why do you charge a fee to apply?

Simply put, we’re looking for startups that are serious about their companies and our competition.

If you cannot afford our application fee for any reason, please let us know at [email protected] and we’ll work it out.

Who should I contact if I’m having a technical issue?

Our apologies for any inconvenience, but we’re here to help! Please send an email describing your issue to [email protected].

If I applied in any of the previous competitions, but did not receive investment, can I apply again this year?

Yes! The competition is open to applicants from previous years, and a few of our winners applied a couple of times before becoming a winner. You can also copy over many of your answers from last year’s application – simply use the same login credentials and your answers will auto-populate.

Is the application open to every business?

The following businesses are not eligible for the Competition:

(1) retail businesses with brick and mortar storefronts,

(2) residential real property business,

(3) investment vehicles that invest in the securities of other entities,

(4) sports venues,

(5) gaming and gambling businesses,

(6) places of overnight accommodation,

(7) past 43North cash-prize winners ,

(8) entertainment-related establishments.,

(9) single-purpose entertainment or event productions (e.g. movies, albums, concerts)

For this purpose, “retail business” means a business that is primarily engaged in making retail sales of goods or services to customers who personally visit such facilities to obtain goods or services. In addition, generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters and franchise-based outlets.

What does the application timeline look like?

  • July 8: Application period closes.
  • July-August: Applicants will be notified of their standing, and those moving on to 43North’s Semifinals will be assigned a date to perform live video conference pitches to a panel of judges.
  • August-September: Semifinalists will be notified of their status and whether they are being considered as Finalists.
  • OctoberFinalists will come to Buffalo, NY and pitch live in front of our panel of judges and audience. Eight of the finalists will become 43North Winners.
  • January 2020: Winners will move to Buffalo, NY and begin 43North’s incubation program.


How many rounds of judging are there?

There are 3 rounds of judging: an online written application, a live video pitch, and our in-person Finals in Buffalo.

Who are the judges?

43North has a team of judges from throughout New York State and the United States who are experts in various fields.

Can I be both an applicant to 43North and a judge?

No, you may not be both an applicant and a judge in the same competition year.

Will your staff and judges sign confidentiality agreements?

No. Due to the sheer number of submissions received by 43North, none of its staff, agents, including judges, or assigns will enter into any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. Please thoroughly review our Terms and Conditions before entering 43North.

43North Finals:

Will 43North cover my travel accommodations if I become a finalist?

43North will cover hotel rooms and flights for all the finalists.

Our Program:

Besides the investment, what else do you get?

Over the past 6 years, our accelerator program has evolved into so much more than a check for $500K or $1M. In addition to receiving investment, you get:

  • Free workspace – Our incubator is located in the heart of Buffalo’s startup community, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. You will work alongside some of the city’s fastest-growing companies, leading researchers, esteemed business executives, and brightest minds.
  • Mentorship – We pair our portfolio companies with experts and other founders specific to their industry, and also have a team of mentors ready to help with any general business needs the company has, from marketing and sales to web development, recruiting, and manufacturing.
  • Access to our network – The 43North team is incredibly connected in the Buffalo business community, so whether you need introductions to potential customers, manufacturing space, corporate partners, or service providers, we are here to help! We’ve also built up a network of hundreds of VCs and angels from across the country, so we can introduce you to potential investors when you’re ready to raise your next round.
  • Recruiting and marketing support – We’re here to help you scale in Buffalo, from hiring top talent to building a digital marketing strategy that supports your sales objectives. We have a full-time Director of Talent Strategy on our team, whose sole focus is helping you make great hires, and a marketing team that can assist with everything from public relations to video production, graphic design, social media marketing, and event planning.
  • The opportunity to operate tax-free – Through the STARTUP-NY program, you and your employees can work free of state income taxes for up to 10 years. Learn more about eligibility for this program here.

What are some of the milestones of the 43North portfolio?

43North was established to help create a culture of entrepreneurship in Buffalo, NY and grow the local business economy. Since 2014, we’ve invested in 44 portfolio companies that have gone on to create more than 500 local jobs, raise an addition $200M in venture investment, and achieve a total valuation of more than $800M. But we’re just getting started.

Through a partnership with Techstars and countless organizations in our community, we are working together to build a startup ecosystem that rivals larger cities – but with affordable access to talent and real estate, and a community that is here to support you.

What does the 43North team bring to the table?

The 43North team comes from a wide range of industries and backgrounds, including finance, politics, HR and recruiting, multimedia, digital marketing, national events, and mergers and acquisitions. As long-time Buffalo residents, we have built up an extensive network with the area’s largest and most esteemed brands, so whether you’re looking for new customers, suppliers, partners, or vendors, we can connect you with the right people to help you scale. And if you’re looking for something to do in your free time, we have a team dedicated to events and quality of life – so you’ll always have a new restaurant to try, concert or sporting event to attend, or outdoor activities to participate in (all year round)!

What is there to do in Buffalo?

There is never a shortage of things to do around Buffalo, no matter the time of year. In the warm weather months, there are food and art festivals nearly every weekend, live music at outdoor venues, a vibrant waterfront, and tons of parks and bike paths. And when the snow begins to fall, you’ll find us skiing and snowboarding at places like Holiday Valley, sledding at Chestnut Ridge Park, and ice skating at Canalside.

We’re also very devoted to our professional and minor league sports teams, the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bandits, and Buffalo Bisons. If the arts and architecture are more your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark on buildings around Buffalo, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is home to world-class modern and contemporary art, and Frederick Law Olmsted created the beautiful parks around the area. Add to that a diverse and delectable food scene (far beyond chicken wings) and a friendly vibe, you’re sure to fall in love with Buffalo.

Who should I contact with a media request?

Please contact Peter Burakowski, VP of Marketing & Organizational Strategy, at [email protected] or (716) 259-2838.