One of Buffalo’s own is the winner of the seventh annual $5 million 43North startup competition. Top Seedz walked away with top honors, as well as the grand prize of a $1 million investment. We interviewed Rebecca Brady of Top Seedz back in August of 2020. At the time, Brady commented that she attributed her success to “never going beyond her means, working hard, never taking a loan, depending on herself at the start (not hiring a team and financially burdening the business), and understanding that growth pains were only natural and “good problems to have.”
In addition to the financial investments, the winners will receive one year of free space in the Seneca One where 43North’s headquarters is located, guidance from experienced mentors, local connections to potential customers, access to 43North’s network investors and other business incentive programs.
Now, it looks as if Brady and her WNY business will be off to the races, as will seven other companies that each won investments of $500,000. Governor Kathy Hochul announced the news that the following companies were the winners of the seventh annual $5 million 43North startup competition.
Top Seedz – Buffalo, NY – $1,000,000 Winner
Founder: Rebecca Brady
We make artisan crackers and roasted seeds packed with nutrition and flavor using the simplest ingredients that nature provides. We want the seeds to shine!
BetterMynd, Inc. – Buffalo, NY – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Cody Semrau
BetterMynd is an online therapy platform for college students. We partner directly with colleges to give their students access to our diverse network of licensed mental health counselors from the privacy and convenience of their laptops and mobile devices.
Big Wheelbarrow, INC – Austin, TX – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Sam Eder
Big Wheelbarrow is a SaaS company that enables food distributors and grocery chains to create and maintain decentralized supply chains in order to meet consumer demand for local food profitably, efficiently, and safely.
FLOX – The Healthy Chicken Company – London, UK – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Imtiaz Shams
FLOX – The Healthy Chicken Company is a revenue-generating venture using machine-vision to enable welfare-first farming; with initial applications in chicken farming. Our product helps improve chicken health & wellbeing, so farmers operate more ethically, profitably and sustainably; and better visibility to the entire supply-chain – through to (increasingly conscious) consumers.
Infiuss Health – San Jose, CA – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Melissa Bime
We are a SAAS platform powering remote research/clinical trials in Africa, by connecting researchers (in industry and academia) to patients, participants in Africa to US and EU based pharmaceutical and life science companies for clinical research and clinical trial studies.
ShearShare, Inc. – McKinney, TX – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Courtney Caldwell
ShearShare is the first B2B mobile marketplace to monetize underutilized assets in the beauty and barbering industry, starting with space to work. Stylists rent suites/stations by the day, week, or occasion with zero contract or commission, and salon, spa, and barbershop owners make money on empty space they already have.
Verivend – Buffalo, NY – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Aaron Santarosa
Verivend is the fintech modernizing how businesses do business. A true network, Verivend offers the quickest way available to pay and get paid, zero barrier to entry allowing businesses to transact with all customers and vendors, unbiased reputation transparency, and a digital wallet powering instant B2B and B2C payments.
Zealot Interactive – Arlington, VA – $500,000 Winner
Founder: Shaun Masavage
Augmented streaming video lessons for musical instruments paired with state-of-the-art optional hardware. We are a “Peloton for music.” The curated marketplace of content is legally compliant with record labels and enables creators to host videos they otherwise would have no ability to license.
Among 43North’s past award winners is tech unicorn ACV Auctions, which brought 43North to new heights as its first publicly traded portfolio company, after an IPO on March 24, 2021.
43North’s winners were selected by the following Finals Judges, at an awards ceremony at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo:
Brian Brackeen, General Partner at Lightship Capital
Peter Boyce II, Founder and Managing Partner of Stellation Capital
Howard Draft, Executive Chairman at Draftfcb
Scott Omelianuk, Editor-in-Chief of Inc. Magazine
Jackie Reses, Chairman of the Economic Development Council at Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Rudina Seseri, Founder and Managing Partner of Glasswing Ventures
“Buffalo’s entrepreneurial community has felt the positive impact of 43North and now there are eight new innovative companies joining an already vibrant startup scene,” said Governor Hochul. “We congratulate the extraordinary winners of this year’s competition and look forward to seeing them gain momentum while creating exciting new jobs in the region.”
43North Board Chair Eric Reich said, “Every year we are blown away by the hustle, talent and innovation demonstrated by the companies competing for a place in the 43North portfolio. We are excited to watch tonight’s winners make their mark in Buffalo as they grow their companies and take advantage of the rich resources offered by the city and our program.”
Over the past seven years, 43North has invested in a diverse portfolio of 51 companies, 31% of which have founders of color and 23% having female founders. Nearly half of those companies have maintained a material presence in the Queen City, creating over 800 local jobs.
43North President Colleen Heidinger said, “The energy in Shea’s Performing Arts Center was palpable tonight as the Western New York community turned out to cheer on our incredible finalists. Buffalonians have witnessed firsthand the transformative economic impact achieved by bringing new talent and capital to our region, as evidenced by the support on display tonight. I can’t wait to watch the winning companies experience all that our burgeoning startup ecosystem has to offer.”
43North is an accelerator program that hosts an annual startup competition, investing $5 million per year to attract and cultivate high-growth companies in Buffalo, NY. 43North portfolio companies 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 Kathy Hochul, Empire State Development, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit www.43north.org.