Written by Alisa Franasiak, BS/MBA ’24 –
I recently attended 43North’s 8th Annual Finals Competition held at Shea’s Theater, which was packed to the brim. I watched eight companies from around the country and across the globe go head-to-head to compete for $5 million in funding and a chance to relocate to Buffalo and its entrepreneurial hub. This year’s winners were Otrafy, Agapé Wellness, AMPAworks, Phood, and Mod Tech. They each received $1 million in funding in exchange for 5% equity in their company. In addition to the money, they will also receive a spot in 43North’s coveted accelerator program, where they will receive mentorship, office space, recruiting, fundraising, and marketing support from the 43North team. 43North is helping to drive the Buffalo area to flourish by relocating innovative companies with high growth potential into the region. The finals were an astounding testament to our entrepreneurial community in Buffalo.
It’s not only 43North that has been spearheading the startup landscape, The city of Buffalo has become a center of innovation in recent years. It has extensive resources for those looking to begin a startup. Buffalo has undergone a renaissance, and I genuinely believe that it has become the prime place to start a business and is morphing into the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. Buffalo has become a technological hub, with the number of tech companies doubling in the past decade and $530 million in venture capital raised by Buffalo-based startups in 2021. Buffalo also has a strategic location with access to a vast workforce, making it a place where companies can make an impact and scale.
In addition to the recent economic renaissance and startup boom in the Western New York area, there is also a presence of various economic development programs that are helping to accelerate this entrepreneurial ecosystem and helping startups drive growth. This flourishing space makes Buffalo the perfect location to launch a business, and the Buffalo community wants to see startups succeed and grow their ventures. One example is a New York State initiative called START-UP NY that gives new businesses located near eligible college campuses the opportunity to operate tax-free for ten years. Buffalo also has exceptional accelerator programs, including Techstars, Launch NY, and the Cultivator program. There are also additional resources like co-working spaces such as HANSA, Dig, and K Haus and relocation tools such as those provided by Be in Buffalo.
As a student at the University at Buffalo there are even more resources that you can take advantage of to springboard your venture. In the MBA program, there are required courses and electives that will help you to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to identify consumer problems and subsequently deliver financially viable solutions. Entrepreneurship Foundations is a required course in the first year of the MBA program where students learn to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, the process of innovation, and how to take an idea all the way to a company launch.
Another course that is offered as an elective is Entrepreneurship Lab, or “Elab,” where students can develop their entrepreneurial ideas into new businesses and seek seed funding. In addition to coursework, you also have access to Blackstone Launchpad, which is an entrepreneurship program at UB. They have various resources for students looking to start a business such as hosting competitions where students can earn early-stage funding to get their ideas off the ground. They also have venture coaches who advise students on developing and growing their businesses. You also have access to an extensive alumni network, many of whom have launched successful businesses, that you can tap into for mentorship or advice when starting your new venture.
Buffalo has grown substantially in recent years and is only going up from here. With all the resources, network, and workforce at your disposal in the Buffalo region, it is a no-brainer to launch your startup in the city of good neighbors. The Buffalo community has got your back and will help you succeed.
BIO: Alisa is a Buffalo native who grew up in the Williamsville area, she loves animals and has a one-year-old golden doodle puppy named Chance. She is a part of the combined BS/MBA program and majored in business administration with a concentration in marketing in her undergraduate studies at UB. Throughout her undergrad Alisa was involved in organizations such as the University’s Honor College and UB’s Marketing Association. Alisa is currently an intern at UB’s Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships where she helps with business development initiatives, she also has a strong interest in marketing and analytics and likes a mix of quantitative and creative work. She aims to start her career in the Buffalo area upon graduation but also hopes to be a business owner one day, which pushed her to apply to the MBA program to help equip her with the leadership skills necessary to run her own company. Some of Alisa’s interests include painting, photography, listening to music, and spending time with her family, friends, and dog. Time management across academics, work, and recreation has been vital to helping her thrive in her first year in the MBA program.