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Bright Buffalo Niagara sparks growth for early-stage high-tech businesses

Release Date: October 2, 2013

“Bright Buffalo 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.”
Crystal Callahan, founder
The Worldwide App Inc.

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 investments.

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.

Bright Buffalo 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 successful.”

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.

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