news editorial team
It’s possible that the business success of Buffalo-based startup accelerator 43North has been so overwhelming that we’ve failed to commend a key element that’s been evident since its first competition in 2014: inclusion.
Consider four of the five winners of the 2023 contest. Agape Wellness, an app that helps couples communicate (an area where help is clearly needed), is founded by Kadie Okwudili. Bianca Gonzalez co-founded AMPAworks, which makes small shelf cameras that can save hours of time in hospitals, pharmacies, and surgery centers.
Nhat Nguyen developed Otrafy, an artificial intelligence-based food manufacturer management software provider. Phood Founder Alex Parmley created a platform that allows college students to use their food dollars for meal delivery, groceries and at local restaurants.
Two of these winners are women. None of them are white. It is possible to review the last eight competitions and find the same trends. It’s not a coincidence.
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Accelerator President Colleen Heidinger recently said, “Diversity has been important to this organization since day one.” to create all and to change the path for those who have been overlooked or passed over.”
Diversity and success obviously go hand in hand. Squire Technologies, a 2017 winner, recently raised $60 million in venture capital at a $750 million valuation. ACV Auctions won in 2015 to become Buffalo’s first multi-billion dollar startup. In terms of overall impact, 43North has invested $35 million in 59 companies, created nearly 1,100 jobs in the western New York area, and has a portfolio valuation of $4.4 billion.
As the 43North Rules state, those companies must relocate their businesses to Buffalo for a year beginning in January. Not every 43North winner over the years has stayed in Buffalo beyond this year, and not every 43North company has achieved long-term success. But those who stayed have enriched the region all the more, bringing tangible benefits like jobs and innovative technologies alongside intangible benefits like broader thinking and openness to new ideas. Research shows that diversity fuels creativity. It encourages the search for new information and perspective, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving. Just exposure to diversity can change the way you think.
The emphasis on diversity is perhaps 43North’s greatest gift.
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