Tom Murdock: WNY Incubator Network
We all remember the excitement of the Rise of the Rest tour coming to Buffalo. As it turns out, that excitement turned some heads, and it has potential Buffalo advocates lining up to partner with our region’s top startups.
It led directly to an invitation to send our best and brightest to compete with startups from other cities across the US as a part of the LaunchPad Pitch competition at the 2016 Collision Conference in New Orleans.
Buffalo was one of eight such cities to get an invitation, joining San Antonio, Birmingham, New Orleans, Charleston, Raleigh, and Pittsburgh. Never content to be one of eight, 43North’s John Gavigan started executing on a vision for Buffalo to dominate the conference.
The other cities sent a couple people; Buffalo sent nearly 40!
Here are three thoughts from my three days in New Orleans:
- Our secret is getting out – I got to connect with almost 150 startups from the world over. We all remember the days when wearing a Buffalo t-shirt meant questions about snow or chicken wings. At this conference, I got head nods, expressions of interest, and excited questions. Attendees asked if they too could come to Buffalo and live like kings, if I worked in tandem with the wind and sun, and what I thought their odds were in the 2016 43North competition.
- All hands on deck – Some of us are fortunate enough to work day jobs in economic development. At Collision, we were joined by executives from companies like Alliance Advisory Group, EY, Independent Health, Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, M&T Bank and many more, who took time away from their day jobs to support the cause. They worked the floor, outside events, provided volunteer support for Collision, and staffed the Buffalo booth. These folks made the trip at their own expense because they believe so heavily in what they’re seeing in Buffalo.
- Enthusiasm is contagious! – no one attended Collision without noticing the excitement in Buffalo. We fielded questions from folks looking to set up their US operations here, to get more exposure to our startups, and to expand their support programs to Buffalo. Best of all, they were impressed by our resident rock stars from ACV Auctions, Loupe, and Painless 1099, and saw that our enthusiasm is rooted in solid, globally competitive companies.
PS: the excitement of Rise of the Rest also led to an invitation for Buffalo to become a Village Capital Community. This is big news, and potentially transformative for a handful of companies in our life sciences sector. You’ll be hearing more about this soon as the University at Buffalo, LaunchNY, and Invest BN role this program out!