Release Date: August 4, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The 30 local startups in the semifinals of the 43North business idea contest may have a leg up on their out-of-town competition.
That’s because they’re eligible for Pitch Prep, a series of events designed to help budding Western New York entrepreneurs sharpen their business skills and, ultimately, win some of the contest’s $5 million in cash prizes.
WNY Innovation Hot Spot (IHS), a consortium of the region’s eight business incubators, is organizing Pitch Prep, and the incubators are working together to produce the series. Pitch Prep events include but are not limited to:
· A presentation from Rami Katz, chief operating officer of Excell Partners, a venture capital firm in Rochester, N.Y. The Aug. 6 session starts at 4 p.m. at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center in downtown Buffalo. UB Vice Provost Robert J. Genco will also speak, addressing regional trends surrounding the formation of startup companies.
· An online pitch session – using the same web conferencing platform and time allotments required in the 43North semifinals – to New York City investor David Hochman. Hochman is a consultant in technology-based economic development and serves as founding executive director of the Business Incubator Association of New York State.
Jonathan Moscato, founder of Programmable Equipment Company, participated in the 2014 Pitch Prep series. “Practicing my pitch was a real eye opener,” he said. “I knew I had a great business, but the venture capitalist pushed me to simplify my story. It motivated me to keep working on my pitch and ultimately helped me claim my place as a 43North winner.” His company received $250,000.
UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), which supports nine of this year’s 30 local semifinalists, manages IHS, with Genco serving as its principal investigator.
Pitch Prep is another way for Western New York to show its strength in incubating startups, according to Murdock. “Last year's experience shows us that local ventures can compete with the best from the world over,” he said. “43North does a fantastic job of drawing the world’s eyes to Buffalo. And when the whole world is looking our way, our local entrepreneurs are going to shine.”