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Launch NY sees uptick in startup activity

The economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic hasn't slowed activity at Launch NY, an organization that supports startups.

In fact, activity has picked up, said Marnie LaVigne, Launch NY's president and CEO.

“I’m cautiously optimistic because I’m already seeing new investors step up who want to support solutions to the Covid-19 crisis being presented by our startups," she said.

During the first quarter, six Buffalo startups received $305,000 in investment through Launch NY. They were among 11 upstate companies that received $620,000 in total investment.

Launch NY invested in the 11 companies through its nonprofit seed fund and its for-profit limited partner fund. The organization focuses on the 27 westernmost counties of the state, providing access to capital and mentorship.

The 11 companies were a mix of startups that Launch NY invested in for the first time and portfolio companies receiving follow-on funding.

Lavigne said a number of tech companies in its portfolio, such as Walkabout Workplace, which has a virtual office platform, are taking off. Many food companies Launch NY has invested in are seeing a significant rise in sales, and are seeking additional financing or business advice, she said.

"Even those companies who are not seeing new sales opportunities are using this time to do product development that might have been on the back burner," she said.

Some startups have shifted to making needed items like hand sanitizer, or donating products, money and time to help out with the crisis.

Lavigne said Launch NY's activity has been strong in the current quarter, which began this month.

“I’m cautiously optimistic because I’m already seeing new investors step up who want to support solutions to the Covid-19 crisis being presented by our startups," she said.

The six Buffalo recipients were:

  • CaHill, provider of a software platform related to market trends for construction equipment rental.
  • Gclip Row, creator of a rowing shoe system.
  • Graspie, a mobile engagement and learning platform.
  • MemoryFox, a mobile content collection tool.
  • Ru's Pierogi, a producer of pierogi.
  • Walkabout Workplace, offering a digital workplace or office for people working remotely.

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