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Two startups get loans from Buffalo Urban League

A pair of local startup owners who house their businesses on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus were awarded checks Thursday morning for $30,000 each in funding.

The money comes in the form of a loan from the Buffalo Urban League’s Minority and Women Technical Assistance and Loan Fund, which is supported by a $100,000 grant from First Niagara Bank. The funding is targeted toward startup businesses on the medical campus that could benefit from the investment of resources, said Brenda McDuffie, president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League.

Christian Johnson and Derrick Parson are the two recipients. Both run their businesses at the medical campus’s dig workspace, or digital innovation garage, where they can receive support and feedback, McDuffie said.

Johnson’s startup is Driver Watchdog, which creates surveillance devices that will monitor the drivers of cars in order to increase safety and security of the vehicle. Parson runs The AppleTree Agency, which provides short term courses and seminars for managing business development.

McDuffie said the two received the loans after going through the Buffalo Urban League’s technical assistance program and being deemed ready for a loan. Johnson and Parson are special cases, she said, because both were considering taking their startup ideas elsewhere – Johnson was planning on going to Atlanta and Parson was going to work on The AppleTree Agency in New York City.

“Both are individuals who expressed they were ready to move out of town, and all of sudden realized all these great things happening in Buffalo and that they could be a part of them,” McDuffie said.

She added that the loan is expected to be paid back. That return on investment, combined with the rest of the grant from First Niagara, will allow the urban league to assist more startups that go through the technical assistance plan, McDuffie said.