In The News

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Baker brings her donuts to Allentown

Niagara Falls native Ann Hogan is serving up sweetness in the Buffalo food scene. Fry Baby Donuts, a vegan doughnut shop on Elmwood Avenue, opened its doors in the beginning of June.


The shop initially began with a renegade approach. A friend of Hogan’s was working to open a bar and restaurant, and Hogan rented the kitchen to test out her recipes and batch capacity. 


“I would make these large-scale batches of donuts, and I wouldn't want to throw them out so I just kind of texted everybody in my phone who would want donuts,” she says. Later that night she would be out dropping off orders. You could call it “the underground donut delivery,” she says with a laugh.


Eventually, an opportunity to open up a storefront at 336 South Elmwood Ave. presented itself. Designed to be take-out only, the inside of the shop consists of a spacious bakery with a couple of stools. Hogan is the sole owner of the shop, accompanied by her right-hand baker.


As the only vegan doughnut shop in Buffalo, Hogan says she believes the closest is Beechwood Doughnuts in St. Catherines, Ontario and Misfit Doughnuts in Rochester, N.Y. But regardless of being made with egg replacer and soy milk, vegans and non-vegans alike are flocking to the shop. 


Hogan says, “I wanted to do something that was accessible for everybody, just so I wasn’t honing in on a super-niche, exclusive kind of thing.”


Popularity has grown as the shop is selling out of their donuts nearly everyday. There are a few staples such as chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon buns and fritters in addition to some rotating flavors. Coffee, tea and a soda selection are also available.


As a new business owner she shares advice on the uncertainty that can come in the beginning stages. 


“There’s a lot of ambiguity to starting your own business. I guess just kind of stick to, and be true to what it is you want out of the business. Try not to lose sight of what your goals are,” she says. “There’s a lot of support out there and a lot of people will tell you ‘this is how you should do this’ or ‘ this is the best way to do it’ - you have to kind of assess what’s really going to work best for you and stay on top of your vision.”


As a female business owner, Hogan reflects on how her efforts have a small but impactful effect on gender inequality in the workplace. 


“Something I can draw from this is seeing my obligation to combat this notion of female inadequacy that exists in workplaces, especially in a food service setting. Our staff is mostly women and I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel good to look around and see that we were able to build a work environment where as women, we are aware of how microaggressions and workplace biases can take a toll and make a job suck. It feels good not really worrying about whether or not your coworkers respect your opinions or actually take you seriously.”


Fry Baby Donuts is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. or until sold out. Make sure they’re still open if it’s later on in the day by checking out their Facebook or Instagram for updates.

Perseverance pays off with IPO for local company Athenex

When Athenex, a Buffalo-based biopharmaceutical company that focuses on non-traditional cancer treatment, had its initial public offering (IPO) on June 14, it was a validation for many hard years of work and research.

The company, formerly named Kinex Pharmaceuticals, can be traced back to 2004 where it was run, in part, by former University at Buffalo Chemistry Professor David Hangauer.

Hangauer, who stepped down from his professorship at UB in September of 2013 to be named Chief Scientific Officer of Kinex, has spent much of his career focusing on developing protein-based kinase inhibitors which are believed to restrict the growth of certain cancers, according to the Athenex website.

His team also has done extensive research and clinical trials on a chemotherapy treatment in pill form that has the potential to reduce pain and have patients spend less time at the hospital. According to The Buffalo News, the pill is a combination of a popular chemotherapy drug Oraxol and a molecule created by Athenex that allows the drug to be effective in the pill form.  

The Athenex team has administered trials on the pill for close to six years and is waiting to see if all of their hard work will give them the positive results they seek.

Many parties, including New York State, are hoping for great success for the chemotherapy pill. The Buffalo News reported that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated over $200 million to Athenex to build and equip a manufacturing facility in Dunkirk.  The company also has many outside investors and substantial funding from its partners in China.

Athenex’s IPO closed on June 19 after having 6 million shares of stock available from $11 to $13 a share. When it is all said and done, The Buffalo News reported the company hopes to generate nearly $60 million dollars from the sale, with the majority of the funds put into further research and trials for the chemotherapy pill.

Rachel’s Remedies takes top prize at Bright Buffalo Niagara

Entering its ninth year in existence, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators gathered for Bright Buffalo Niagara Entrepreneur Expo 2017 at in the newly renovated Hotel Henry on Wednesday. 
At the day-long event, five finalists from a pool of 25 pitched their startup ideas to the audience. Rachel’s Remedies, a patent-pending wearable moist-heat technology that relieves pain for women breastfeeding, won the top prize of $20,000.

Recently partnering with Dr. Brown’s Baby, the company is entering the consumer market with strength and a team ready to take the product nationwide. 
“This definitely opens up our channels of investors and contacts. And it spreads more than locally, so this is a great opportunity for us,” says founder and CEO Rachel Jackson.

In addition to the top prize, the People’s Choice Award, a $5,000 award, was presented to SweetSpot, an application that provides real-time parking information to users. The company uniquely uses artificial intelligence to identify parking spots moment to moment.

SweetSpot’s CMO Tamera Knight talked to UpstartNY about the future of the company. 
“We got a great validation for our product that it speaks to a lot of people and the next step is getting some investor funding to launch it at UB and alleviate 40,000 people’s headaches. So that is where we would like to head next,” she says.

Bright Buffalo Niagara proved to be an exciting platform for new and upcoming Western New York entrepreneurs. The event sponsors included: Leadership Buffalo, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Upstate Venture Association of New York (UVANY), Z80 Labs and Print2Web.

Ten Thousand Villages embraces the pop-up

As many retailers get away from the traditional brick-and-mortar storefront, pop-ups continue to make their mark on the streets of Buffalo.

Built on the model of the European market and introduced first in the U.S. in Los Angeles, pop-ups now house all types businesses from restaurants to high-end fashion shops. Recently, Buffalo’s branch of Ten Thousand Villages, a global nonprofit fair trade organization with a shop in Williamsville, announced they will move to a pop-up in the Brisbane Building in downtown Buffalo.

The area’s Ten Thousand Villages business was selected to participate in the Queen City Pop-Up, a partnership between Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, Buffalo Place Inc. and Working for Downtown.

The goal of Queen City Pop-Up is to: “Create a vibrant Downtown that serves as a destination for the Western New York Region. We will achieve this goal by facilitating the short-term lease of vacant storefronts in Downtown Buffalo to assist small retailers with entering the downtown market. Queen City Pop-Up transitions empty storefronts into vibrant retail shops to create new and exciting destinations and a positive economic impact on Downtown Buffalo."

Vice-Chair of the Board of Ten Thousand Villages Kevin Opp says the organization has looked to relocate to the city of Buffalo for a long time.

“This ‘pop-up’ store concept provides us the right opportunity to bring our fair trade merchandise to the city’s residents and test this urban marketplace,” he says.

Ten Thousand Villages sells home goods, gifts, and artisan work from more than 130 groups in more than 38 countries around the world. The Ten Thousand Villages, Queen City Pop-Up shop will open on Thursday, June 22 and run through the summer to September 1st, 2017.

SBA kicks off startup series

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than fifty percent of startups begin in the home. To foster this trend, the SBA of Western New York is launching a series of workshops to educate and encourage home-based entrepreneurship.

“The SBA and its resource partners offer a wide array of classes and training sessions for entrepreneurs looking to launch or grow their businesses,” says SBA Buffalo District Director Franklin J. Sciortino. “Getting the right information and proper advice from the onset only helps to increase a small business owner’s odds of succeeding. It’s what I like to say is the foundation needed to build a successful small business,” he adds.

Kicking off the series, the SBA will lead “Starting a Veteran Home-Based Business” on July 19th. The content will focus on the legal and business implications of working at home and participants do not need to be veterans. 

On August 10, it is hosting “Finding the Right Idea,” a look at what startup ideas can and will get financing and how to decipher a bad idea from a winning idea.

Also, on September 14, the organization will hold “Creating an Effective Business Plan,” a workshop on how to put an idea into a viable strategic plan.

The SBA encourages the use of mentoring services, like SCORE, and workshops like the series offered to ensure startup success.  SCORE is a nonprofit aimed at getting small businesses get off the ground through mentoring, an online business plan how-to and free workshops. It is supported by the SBA.

To sign up for these workshops and other sessions for entrepreneurs, go to:


RepHike helping brands manage campus marketing

A Buffalo-based startup is changing the way brands manage their marketing to college students.

Western New York native Olivia Goldstein and partner Shashank Roy launched RepHike last year, providing brand ambassador software to enable companies to grow and manage their campus marketing programs.
“Brands are looking for more authenticity in their messaging and students are looking for word-of-mouth referrals from friends,” Goldstein says.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family continue to be one of the most trusted forms of advertising. In fact, a 2016 survey found that 80 percent of Americans ask for a recommendation before making a purchase of any kind. RepHike’s software makes it easier for businesses to recruit and manage brand ambassadors on college campuses that are helping spread the word.
“We were using a lot of different tools to manage everything,” Goldstein adds. “We were using Slack, Excel, different ways to give brand ambassadors rewards – and we wanted an all-in-one solution so that people that manage campus marketing can do so easier and more effectively.”
Goldstein cited Western New York’s “strong University ecosystem” as a great location for growing RepHike and to research how brands successfully market on campuses. The company currently works with organizations and businesses at SUNY Buffalo, Binghamton, NYU and James Madison University in Virginia. Out west they’re working with UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford.
“We’re changing the way brands can do advertising,” Goldstein said. “We’re very data driven with a finger on the pulse on what our customers are doing and who they are targeting so over time they can see the trends that are happening.”
RepHike recently announced $25,000 in seed investment funds led by StartFast Venture Accelerator. The financing will be used to build university partnerships with campus organizations and for its proprietary technology platform.


Buffalo introduces parking app

No more digging through the car for quarters or running out of restaurants after breaking a dollar for change. In June, the City of Buffalo unveiled Buffalo Roam, an app on your phone that allows you to pay the meter fees for parking with the push of a button, The Buffalo News reported.


According to local media, Buffalo Roam was created by Passport, which is a mobile payment software company that services cities, universities, and private companies, according to its website. The company has created parking software for cities including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and Miami, among others.


In addition to allowing drivers in Buffalo the ability to pay to park by phone, the app allows them to track how long they have remaining to park and add time if needed. The Buffalo News reported the app is free to download, but a ten cent service charge is included for credit card charges to Passport each time a person uses the app to park.


ACV Auction plans to add 100 new hires

ACV Auctions, the Buffalo-based online car auction, announced it will add 100 jobs as it sets to expand across the U.S. This announcement comes a little more than two months after the mobile platform said it had secured $15 million dollars in venture capital funding from California-based Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), according to The Buffalo News.


ACV Auctions, which began as a startup, plans to open for business in eight new markets, which means new jobs in these areas. These markets are Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, Nashville, Roanoke and Southern New Jersey, according to local media.


ACV Auctions also plans to expand its presence and workforce at its headquarters in Buffalo.


ACV Auctions got its start when it won the 43North startup contest in 2015. It earned $1 million dollars in funding and also earned another $1 million from an angel investment, The Buffalo News said.


The mobile service allows used-car dealers to view, bid on, and buy vehicles online. ACV Auctions thereby took away the need for used-car dealers to head to an inventory lot to review cars physically.


It currently employs about 60 employees but, with this most recent announcement, looks to grow its number of staff and reach significantly.


West Side urban market garden campaigns for dirt

A West Side urban market garden is on the hunt for the most nutritious soil it can find—$5,000 worth, to be exact.

WestSide Tilth is about halfway to its fundraising goal on IndieGoGo. The farm, which launched in 2015 on Normal Street in Buffalo's Front Park neighborhood, is run by partners Carrie Nader and Alex Wadsworth. The pair launched the enterprise in an effort to "inspire more people to get involved with sustainable agricultural practices," according to Buffalo Rising.

Why such an effort to procure soil?

"We grow exclusively in imported soil separated from the city soil with a geotextile barrier," Nader tells UpStart NY. "We believe good food starts with good soil."

WestSide Tilth is dedicated to making their produce serves the community where it is grown. The median income in Front Park is $23,700 per year, with 44.5 percent of the population receiving food assistance, according to the American Community Survey.

 "We accept WIC and SNAP benefits at our markets to be sure our food is accessible to everyone," adds Nader.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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