Jordan Levy, the Buffalo venture capitalist who has been chairman of the 43North business plan competition from its start more than two years ago, is leaving that position – but not the 43North board.
William J. Maggio Jr., the president and CEO of Amherst-based medical-testing company Immco Diagnostics, was named as Levy’s replacement as 43North’s chairman. Maggio had been 43North’s vice chairman last year.
“I just love what this is all about,” Maggio said. “I really enjoy being involved in things that are entrepreneurially sustainable.”
The business plan competition has succeeded in drawing thousands of applicants – 11,350 last year and 6,900 in 2014 – from across the country and dozens of countries. But many of the applicants – 74 percent last year and 62 percent in 2014 – are immediately eliminated because they don’t meet the contest’s qualifications. The pool of qualified entrants is then whittled down to about 100 semifinalists.
Maggio said he would like the contest to put more of a focus on attracting top-quality applicants, rather than large numbers of entrants. He would like to build ties with venture capital firms in hopes that they would refer promising entrepreneurs that they encounter to the 43North competition.
“I think they’ve built a really great brand,” Maggio said. “They’ve helped build an awareness of Buffalo as being a great place to start a business.”
Eric Reich, the founder of Campus Labs and one of the Buffalo Niagara region’s most successful entrepreneurs, has been appointed to 43North’s seven-member board of directors and will replace Maggio as vice chairman.
The other members of the 43North board include Pete Grum, the president of Buffalo venture capital firm Rand Capital Corp.; Tyra Johnson, the owner of Blue Sky Design Supply in Buffalo; Norma J. Nowak, the founder of Buffalo life sciences firm Empire Genomics; and Christina Orsi, the University at Buffalo’s vice president for economic development.
The business plan competition is entering its third year, hosting an annual competition that awards $5 million in prizes to 11 companies that a panel of judges deem to have the most promising business plan. In exchange for the funding, mentor support and free rent for a year, the winners must move to Buffalo for a year and turn over a 5 percent ownership stake in their firms to 43North.