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More 43North winners plan to stick around

43North's efforts to keep its contest winners around longer have paid off with its 2016 class of winners, while its group of incoming victors are looking to bring on more local workers, as well.

The competition's third round winners have shown signs they will keep operations in Buffalo as they finish their one-year obligation to move part of their business to Buffalo, while winners of its latest round have posted 17 job openings.

"We're pleased with the progress we've made and excited that many of the companies and CEOs are staying in Buffalo," said Bill Maggio, 43North's chairman. "But we're certainly not going to rest on our laurels. We have a lot of work to do to make sure that continues."

The startup competition changed its recruitment tack two years ago in response to criticism that contest winners recruited from out of town tended to take the money and run, leaving Western New York after remaining the one year they're contractually required to stay in the local market. Almost all of the contest winners not originally based in Buffalo have done just that, including Asana Medical, which returned to Miami; Genetesis, which returned to Ohio; and Painless1099, which returned to Virginia.

In an attempt to keep startups local longer, 43North has gone from casting a wide net for a large number of applicants to targeting fewer companies that are more suited to Buffalo's entrepreneurial climate. Its recruitment efforts focus more on candidates that are a good match with local industry sectors, and for which Buffalo has a good chance of providing attractive employees, customers, suppliers and investors.

Winners from 2016 moving ahead in Buffalo are:

  • Asarasi, which bottles organic water derived from a maple-sapping byproduct, will keep its field operations, distribution, bottling and sourcing local. It has a bottling contract with West Seneca-based Mayer Bros., a partnership with Try-It Distributing and is sold in more than 1,200 stores including 100 Tops Markets locations. Its field-sales manager is a Buffalo native.
  • Bounce Imaging makes a a 360-degree camera that first-responders can throw into dangerous spaces to get a preview of emergency situations via their smartphones. The Towns of Cheektowaga, North Tonawanda and Amherst are among its customers, as are the FBI, the U.S. Marshals and the New York State Police. It hired its first Buffalo-based sales lead and plans to grow its sales operation out of its Buffalo headquarters.
  • Formarum, the developer of a turbine that converts chlorine pools to saltwater, is in the process of setting up a manufacturing facility in Cheektowaga for its Canadian and American distributors. It did beta testing in Western New York over the summer, worked with local advisers and plans to go to market by spring. It hired a Buffalo-based mechanical engineer to run its plant, and plans to hire four to six technicians and two full-time operations staff.
  • HigherMe, a retail and hourly employee hiring software company, hired former 43North employee Pete Petrella as its vice president of enterprise solutions. It also hired seven local account executives with plans to add more, and will expand its Buffalo headquarters.
  • Oncolinx, which is developing targeted cancer immunotherapies with the National Cancer Institute, hired a full-time post-doctoral fellow to work in its lab at the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy.
  • PathoVax, which is marketing a low-cost HPV-associated cancer vaccine, is in talks with Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
  • UltraCell Insulation, which makes high-performance, cellulose building insulation from recycled cardboard, is in the process of launching a pilot production plant and plans to have a full-scale manufacturing operation in the Buffalo region this year. It plans to create 35 manufacturing jobs once it's up and running at full capacity.
  • WeDidIt, a software company that helps nonprofits reach new donors online, hired a full-time marketing manager and partnerships coordinator locally, and is working with local nonprofits such as Salvation Army Buffalo and Say Yes to Education.

Winners from 2017 will move to Buffalo this week. Half of them currently have 17 job openings posted among them. They are:

  • Burner Fitness, a Buffalo-founded wellness app, is hiring a benefit designer, coach evangelist, marketing manager, producer and wellness consultant.
  • Kangarootime, a California-founded operating system for child care centers, is hiring a sales development representative.
  • SomaDetect, a Canada-founded company that helps dairy farmers determine milk quality, is hiring a data scientist, electrical engineer, embedded software engineer, full stack web developer, mechanical engineer and a UX and UI designer.
  • TARA, a California-founded software development company, is hiring a full stack marketer, account executive, copywriter and lead engineer.

The 43 North competition, with a grand prize of $1 million, is a Buffalo Billion program aimed at attracting startup companies to Buffalo. In addition to the money, winners receive free office space, mentoring, support services and 10 years of state tax exemption.

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