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Empire State Development Announces Seven Finals Judges for 43North 2018 Competition

Some of the brightest minds in entrepreneurship and venture capital to determine winners of $5 million startup competition – on Oct. 3

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the panel of finals judges which will determine the prize money for the fifth annual 43North startup competition. The esteemed group of judges will evaluate pitches from 10 finalists on stage in front of a live audience at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo on Thursday, October 5 at 6 p.m. The judges will award one top startup 43North’s $1 million grand prize with seven other competitors receiving $500,000 prizes.

“The panel of talented judges will bring entrepreneurial expertise in selecting the next round of winners for 43North, which in just a few years has successfully worked to make Western New York a national entrepreneurial hot spot by attracting top-notch startups and providing them with the support they need to stay and grow their businesses in the region,” said Howard Zemsky, President, CEO and Commissioner of Empire State Development.

43North is part of the visionary Buffalo Billion initiative, operating through grants from Empire State Development and the New York Power Authority, along with the support of several sponsors. As of September 2018, 43North’s portfolio of 37 companies has achieved a combined $108 million in outside investment, and conservative estimates place the portfolio’s total valuation at $332 million, an increase of over $300 million since 43North’s inception in 2014. These start-ups are collectively responsible for over 250 full-time jobs based in Western New York, with new hires added nearly every day.

“The 43North business competition continues to develop into a premier, high-impact economic development driver for Buffalo and Western New York,” said John R. Koelmel, New York Power Authority chairman and Buffalo resident. “The strength and quality of the initiative is again evident, not only in the finalist companies, but also in the incredible talents and resumes of these judges. I’m excited to see this year’s competition and for more innovative entrepreneurs to have the opportunity to become our region’s next success story.”

43North’s Finals judging is broken down into two rounds. The morning qualifying round is general admission and the public is welcome to come and go throughout the day. Tickets for the evening round are also free but seating should be reserved at 43North.org.

43North Finals qualifying round with 18 finalists competing will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, October 3, at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo. 43North Finals million-dollar round and awards celebration will follow from 6-9 p.m. At that time 43North's top 10 finalists will pitch live onstage for either the $1 million grand prize, or one of 43North's seven $500,000 prizes. In addition to cash, 43North winners receive free incubator space in 43North’s incubator on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, guidance from experienced mentors in their field, and access to other business incentive programs.

43North President Alex Gress will serve as the master of ceremonies during the 43North finals.

“I’m thrilled to host the 43North Finals this year. I was in the audience for the 43North Finals in 2017 and it’s been amazing to me what a journey the last year has been,” said Gress.  “I can’t wait to get on stage October 3 at Shea’s Performing Arts Center and celebrate a great night for the Buffalo startup ecosystem.”

The 2018 43North Finals judges are:

Aashish Tripathi

Aashish joined Amazon in 2013, and is the co-founder and Head of Business for Amazon Launchpad. Prior to joining Amazon, Aashish was VP of Sales and Operations at the startup Bellycard, where he helped raise over $20M in funding and expanded the company from 40 to 150 employees. Before joining Bellycard, Aashish spent 6 years at eBay, where he conceptualized, built, and managed the Top Seller Account Management program.

Arturo Nuñez

Arturo is the founder of AIE Creative, a company that provides immersive experiences to a highly curated selection of brands looking for unique ways to connect with diverse customers. He was previously CMO for Latin America for Apple. He was responsible for marketing communications, corporate communications, product marketing, education content, enterprise marketing, and developer relations across all 38 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, with special focus on Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.

Chris Heivly

Chris Heivly is one of the nation’s leading experts in how to turn startups into multimillion-dollar companies and has been dubbed the “The Startup Whisperer.” Heivly has worked at the highest levels for some of the world’s most recognized brands, including MapQuest, which was sold to AOL for $1.2 billion; Rand McNally, the world’s largest map publisher; and Accenture, the largest multinational management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company on the planet.

Deborah Quazzo

Deborah is the Managing Partner of GSV AcceleraTE, a venture capital fund investing in exceptional entrepreneurs and their companies in the $75B education and talent technology sector. She is also the Co-founder and Managing Partner of the ASU GSV Summit and Founder and Senior Advisor of GSV Advisors. Now in its 10th year, the ASU GSV Summit celebrates innovation across the global “pre-K to gray” learning and talent landscape and attracts over 4,000 attendees.

Mahala Burn, PhD

Mahala holds global responsibility for new technology scouting and strategic financing activities at bioMérieux. She leverages her background as a doctoral-level cell biologist, a strategy consultant, and an operational leader to seek and enable cutting-edge technology to save the lives of critical care patients. Prior to her role at bioMérieux, Mahala led operations as the Life Sciences Practice Director at EY-Parthenon, a top 10 firm that is the global strategy consulting arm of Ernst & Young.

Rochelle Stewart

Rochelle currently serves as an Advisor for the Morgan Stanley Multi-Cultural Innovation Lab and is the Founding Partner of 3C Partners, an advisory and consulting business that works with venture capital and startup clients on marketing, brand, and business growth strategy. She began her career at UBS and has held positions at Brightwood Capital, L’Oreal, POPSUGAR, and Conde Nast, where she helped drive company-wide transformation across the portfolio of 20+ brands.

Woody Benson

Considered a business partner and company builder by his CEOs, Woody has spent half of his 35-year tech career on the operational side (Apple Computer, Sony Corporation, Lotus Development, Shiva Corporation, and MCK Communications) and the other half on the investing side (Lazard Technology Partners, Prism VentureWorks, and now LaunchCapital). He was also named Mass Telecom CEO of the Year and a Top 50 VC by AlwaysOn Media.

About 43North

43North is the $5 million startup competition, awarding cash prizes to some of the best entrepreneurs and startups from around the world. 43North winners also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. 43North operates through the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative and grants from Empire State Development and the New York Power Authority. Additional support comes from several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.






Pamm Lent (ESD) |[email protected] | (716) 846-8309 | (800) 260-7313

ESD Press Office | [email protected] | (800) 260-7313