Buffalo and Upstate New York are experiencing a new level of excitement and energy around our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and startup culture.
While possibly still lacking in the scope we’d like to see, our sources of funding for these efforts continues to grow. In fact, just five short years ago, this would have been a very different and shorter list.
We plan to continue with an ongoing series featuring discussions with capital advisors and players in the Buffalo region to explore the assets and gaps in Buffalo's capital landscape.
So for you entrepreneurs and students with the next world-changing idea, here are a number of sources of funding and assistance:
Led by the indomitable Marnie Lavigne, Launch NY is a venture development organization that provides “proof of concept” funding and mentorship to very early stage startups. Its primary mission is to mold its companies into “investor-ready status” for consideration by angel and seed investors listed below.
The Western New York Venture Association, founded in 1989, has been committed to the region’s economic growth by improving the scale and sophistication of angel investors who are both in the area and ex-pats living outside of WNY.
Kevin Christner leads Richmond Capital Partners, which provides highly sophisticated finance and cash flow consulting, along with equity investments in area startups. You can learn more from Kevin’s appearance at Startup Grind Buffalo.
Launched in 2012 and currently led by Buffalo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem evangelist Jon Spitz, Z80 provides office space, mentorship, and infrastructure to very early stage startups, in addition to funding.
OneTen Capital represents a growing trend in what’s called “coalition investing”; boutique venture capital firms that also closely collaborate in areas where founders may lack specific expertise.
Excell Partners focuses on seed and early stage high-tech startups in New York state. Its portfolio includes four Buffalo startups.
Led by Scott Friedman, CEO of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, its investment focus is in hospitality, customer service products, materials, and life science companies.
Armory Square is an early stage venture fund serving Upstate New York and New York City. The organization is notable for leading the A-round of Buffalo’s hot startup rochACV Auctions.
While based in Rochester, the Rochester Angel Network considers early stage companies throughout Upstate New York.
The UB Directed Energy program is an incubator supported by NYSERDA that focuses on alternative and clean energy technologies.
Another upstate venture fund, Cayuga has no specific industry focus. It reviews anything with a strong value proposition in sustainable markets.
One of the largest angel investor groups in the country, the New York Angels have invested more than $100 million in more than 100 startups. While based in New York City, its focus includes Upstate New York.
Genacast invests in seed-stage technology ventures throughout the northeast and is the seed-stage venture arm of Comcast Ventures. They tend to prefer B2B technology companies and have visited Buffalo for several of our pitch events.
The Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund was established by an anonymous donation to support commercializing the discoveries and inventions of UB faculty and students
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s mission is advancing energy innovation, technology, and investment; transforming New York's economy; and empowering people to choose clean and efficient energy as part of their everyday lives.
The Erie County Industrial Development Agency provides small business loans and tax incentives for qualified companies throughout Erie County.
The Empire State Development Corporation provides small business loans and tax incentives for eligible businesses throughout New York state, including a 0% income tax rate for qualified manufacturers.
Rand Capital is Buffalo’s oldest venture capital company, investing in a diverse portfolio for nearly 50 years. Rand focuses its equity investments on early or expansion stage businesses or can structure its debenture investments for more mature companies.
Based out of Albany, Pine Street focuses on growth capital, typically in the form of subordinated debt with warrants, for companies with a minimum of $10 million in annual revenue.
Summer Street, based in Buffalo, provides a broad range of services, including growth equity investment for market expansion or acquisitions.
The world's biggest prize for pitch competitions is right here in Buffalo. Every year, 43North awards $5 million in equity investment to winners of its annual business competition.
StartFast is a combination competition and business accelerator based in Syracuse.
The New York Business Plan Competition is the only leading collegiate business plan competition that is a regionally coordinated, collaborative, statewide program. Awarding over $500,000 in prizes annually, it is one of the largest collegiate business plan competitions in the world.
This list is most likely not complete, and liable to change as Buffalo's entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to grow and attract national attention. If you know of other sources of business funding in Western New York that should be on this list, please let us know, and we’ll keep it updated.