Launch NY sets record pace for 2019, closes 19th deal of the year

Launch NY, Upstate New York’s first and only venture d.evelopment organization to provide pro bono mentoring and capital access to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, is continuing its strong investment activity in 2019, announcing a total of 40 portfolio company investments and 19 transactions so far this year, keep pace as the most active seed fund in New York state.

“Once again, we are in a record-breaking position and look forward to continuing our support in some of New York’s hottest startups,” said Marnie LaVigne, Ph.D., president and CEO of Launch NY. “These infusions of capital can mean a myriad of outcomes for different companies, from bringing their product to market faster, to expanding upon their current offerings. We’re proud of our ability to work closely with our portfolio companies and determine what will help them the most. It’s just another way we can offer assurance to our investors and funders their dollars will be spent wisely.”

Four portfolio companies received investment from Launch NY’s nonprofit Seed Fund in Q2. Designed to provide $25,000 to $100,000 in investment capital to companies who meet

Launch NY’s criteria, the Seed Fund was introduced in 2016 and has invested over $1.9 million in Upstate NY startups so far. It’s fueled by grants and donations, with all returns coming back to it and support investments in future startups in what is known as an “evergreen cycle.”

The following companies are Q2 Seed Fund recipients:

Antithesis Foods, Inc., a “healthy junk food” company located in Ithaca that produces chickpea-based chocolate snacks.

Empower Equity (EMPEQ), also located in Ithaca, which provides companies capital access through a subscription service on their energy equipment.

K-Neesio, a Rochester-based company that produces a patella support product for athletes.

Nivitus, a Rochester-based company that produces software allowing first responders and EMTs to quickly access and visualize patient health information when first arriving on scene.

"The most amazing thing about upstate to me remains the strong deal flow,” said Lindsay Karas Stencel, Launch NY COO and fund manager. “It is easy and exciting to do deals at a breakneck pace when there are so many companies ripe for investment in such a diverse variety of industries, and I am excited to see what the second half of the year brings!"

Jason Goodman, co-founder and CEO of Antithesis Foods, dreamed of a healthier alternative to chips when cramming at Cornell, where he’s pursuing his Ph.D. in food science. He said the funding will help the company grow brand recognition outside Ithaca.

“For over a year, we made all our product by hand, having to run to the kitchen every time we received an order,” he said. “As we’ve successfully scaled up and outsourced production to a factory, we can now invest in marketing and acquiring more customers. We’ve worked with the team at Launch NY to make sure our roadmap is structured so that we can grow fast, improve our product, scale our venture and raise follow-on funding.”

Antithesis Foods was also invited to apply to the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program for proposing a healthy ingredient portfolio based on its chickpea dough technology. The program is designed to provide equity-free funding and entrepreneurial support at the earliest stages of company and technology development.

Additionally, Launch NY announced three portfolio companies have received investments from its for-profit Limited Partner (LP) Fund, which debuted in March 2019 and is designed to coinvest alongside Launch NY’s nonprofit seed fund, ultimately doubling the capital available for Launch NY client companies.

The following companies are Q2 LP Fund recipients:

3AM Innovations, a Buffalo-based company that has created a situational tracking solution for first responders called FLARE

• Antithesis Foods, Inc.

• Empower Equity (EMPEQ)

Launch NY’s Limited Partner Fund is a piece of Launch NY’s new invest local financing programs that includes the new Investor Network. The Investor Network is akin to a digitally administered open angel group, allowing accredited investors to look at deals based on their preferences in sector, stage, and region. This platform will showcase select Launch NY portfolio companies and works to break down barriers for those who want to support local startups but who simply can't be in the room for more traditional fundraising pitches and need to depend on a trusted nonprofit organization like Launch NY to provide mentorship, due diligence, deal formation, and portfolio management. Now, Launch NY portfolio companies have a whole new audience of investors that's global, bringing not only capital but industry connections and experience to augment Launch NY’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program and National Mentor Network.

Launch NY is now offering accredited investors and new angels who want to learn more about the Investor Network and the opportunity to join as a beta user to sign up for one of several Investor Network webinars session, The Path to Investing in Upstate NY Startups, which will take place over the next few weeks. The webinar sessions will be offered at various times through Friday, July 26. To sign up for a session, complete this form. Launch NY’s Investor Network Beta Test will only take 100 investors and is more than half subscribed.

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