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43North success stories are making the case for Buffalo as a home for entrepreneurs

ACV Auctions is a startup on the move just a couple of years after becoming the $1 million grand-prize winner in the 43North business plan competition held in October 2015.

It’s another example of how the contest, created by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, continues to put Buffalo on the entrepreneurial map.

And there’s more.

Another local startup and 43North prizewinner, Energy Intelligence, is preparing to install its power generation equipment in one lane of the Peace Bridge plaza as part of a test.

Articles on both success stories, written by The News’ David Robinson, offer another reason to reconsider and repackage how Buffalo is perceived. This area is proving that it can sustain and grow Silicon Valley aspirations.

ACV Auctions developed an app for that.

Officials at the fledgling company came up with a unique way for car dealers to sell used vehicles: through a smartphone app. The concept won them the 43North grand prize, and it is winning converts.

As Robinson wrote, the company’s workforce has more than tripled to 37 people, including 28 in Buffalo. It also has plans to move into larger markets in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. And now that the company has raised more than $5 million from a group of venture capital companies this month, it can expand further.

And it has just the mentor to help make it happen in experienced entrepreneur, George G. Chamoun, co-founder of Synacor Inc. He will be ACV Auctions’ CEO.

There is more praise to heap upon this out-of-the-box company, as is the case with Energy Intelligence, which won $500,000 as a runner-up in the 43North competition in October 2014.

Frustrated drivers stuck on the Peace Bridge will like this company’s idea to generate energy from vehicles. First, it wants to install its power generation equipment in one lane of the bridge plaza as part of a test.

As drivers move toward the customs booth, they will be generating electricity. Founder and CEO Daniel Shani said the company is focused on “generating clean energy from truck traffic.” It’s an idea that environmentalists should appreciate.

Plans are to install a series of modules in one of the Peace Bridge lanes, probably on the Canadian side, to take advantage of slowing vehicles. When a vehicle drives over the module, it pushes down on the device’s internal hydraulics, generating electricity that can be used to power nearby equipment. Simple.

Both companies, along with a few others, are 43North success stories. Not all companies will take off, or last. That’s just how business goes.

But what Buffalo has needed, and what it lacked for decades, was even the interest among entrepreneurs to plant seeds in the city’s economic soil. The city’s decline made it a place to avoid, but Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion program and the 43North business competition have changed the calculation.

That’s good news for Buffalo. With enough startup activity that attracts entrepreneurs and investors, this area’s reputation as a welcoming place for budding companies will grow.

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