BUFFALO, N.Y. – Bright Buffalo Niagara, Western New
York’s premier venture forum, gave 34 high-tech companies
from across the region and beyond the chance to pitch their
companies to investors and business leaders on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Entrepreneurs presented in one-minute or 10-minute sessions to
potential investors with the goal of garnering new support and
More than 300 attendees took part in the forum at Statler City
in downtown Buffalo. In addition to entrepreneurs and investors,
the event also attracted elected officials, business and economic
development professionals, and many others involved in advancing
the region’s high-tech economy.
Company presenters included those involved in diverse high-tech
industries, from pharmaceutical development to software, green
energy and advanced manufacturing companies. In addition to the
presentations, attendees took part in speaker programs with topics
tailored to investor and entrepreneur audiences, a keynote luncheon
and networking sessions.
Niagara provided the rare opportunity to showcase my company in
front of dozens of investors I may not have otherwise encountered
— all in one day,” said Crystal Callahan, who pitched
her firm, The Worldwide App Inc., in a 10-minute session.
“Early-stage entrepreneurs know how difficult it can be to
find investors while managing the other challenges of launching a
business. Bright helps us build the relationships we need to be
Callahan, a Buffalo native, moved back to Western New York from
the West Coast to launch her business, which provides a smartphone
application that allows users to view and vote for award-winning
short filmmakers to win an indie-Hollywood career break.
Keynote remarks were presented by Victor Hwang, a San
Francisco-based venture capitalist and the author of “The
Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.”
Hwang’s remarks centered on how to continue building a
thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York modeled on
the environment that spawned southern California’s thriving
information technology industry in recent decades.
On the evening of Sept. 30, a VIP reception featuring remarks
from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli was held at the
University at Buffalo’s Clinical and Translational Research
Center. Additional Sept. 30 VIP activities included an interactive
workshop that Hwang led to help economic development specialists
from the region develop tactics to foster an environment where new
businesses can grow.
“Today's event demonstrated what many of us in the region
already know: Western New York is becoming a hotbed of innovation
and new business growth,” said Marnie LaVigne, PhD, associate
vice president for economic development at UB, which is a lead
organizer of the event. “We are proud to again give our
region's young, promising companies the chance to connect with
investors and other potential supporters, with the goal of
accelerating the growth of these companies and continuing to
strengthen our technology-based economy.”
Nearly 100 early stage companies have presented at Bright
Buffalo Niagara since it was established in 2009, with 250-300
attendees each year including entrepreneurs, angel and venture
capital investors, potential business partners, industry leaders,
elected officials and more. Since its inception, Bright Buffalo
Niagara participants have gone on to raise more than $23 million in
funding and have gained invaluable exposure to national markets and
potential future investors. Examples of past Bright Buffalo Niagara
success stories include QuaDPharma, which presented in 2012 and
raised $1 million in additional funding that year, and Kinex
Pharmaceuticals, which raised over $6 million in 2012.
Bright Buffalo Niagara 2013 sponsors:
GROWTH STAGE SPONSORS: Launch NY; the University at
Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in
Bioinformatics and Life Sciences; Superior Group; and the
University at Buffalo.
START-UP STAGE SPONSOR: Colligan Law LLP.
SEED STAGE: Buffalo Business First; Buffalo Niagara Enterprise;
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; CareerBuilder; Erie County
Industrial Development Agency; Insyte Consulting; Phillips Lytle
LLP; UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic
Outreach; and Upstate Venture Association of New York.
PRE-SEED STAGE: Dopkins and Company LLP; Freed Maxick CPAs,
P.C.; Hodgson Russ Attorneys; HSBC; Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman
LLP; the Research Foundation for the State University of New York;
Wilmington Trust; Woods Oviatt Gillman LLP; and the Western New
York Venture Association.