Like any good entrepreneur, Chris Miano learned to adapt with his company, MemoryFox.
The company began as a platform for families to capture the life story of pre-dementia elderly patients. But the organization found strong interest among nonprofits who wanted MemoryFox to help collect stories from their donors, employees, volunteers and beneficiaries. Nonprofits were keen on a digital solution that would assist with fundraising.
MemoryFox has kept moving in that direction. And now the veteran-owned startup has received a $100,000 investment from the Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund, which was launched by the University at Buffalo. The company has raised a total of $380,000 in seed funding, from UB's fund, Z80 Labs, Launch New York and private investors.
MemoryFox is the type of company that UB's Innovation Hub and other local startup backers want to cultivate and make a bigger part of the Buffalo economy. Miano said when he talks to startups in other cities the size of Buffalo, "there is almost no comparison in terms of resources available."
"I'm very bullish on our company and community growth potential as long as we keep ushering our startups along to success," he said. "The capital generated by success becomes reinvested into the community and momentum builds over time.
"We'll never be Silicon Valley, but the world only needs one place like that," Miano said. "We can be the midsized model for growth, and I think you're already seeing that come to fruition."
Miano, a Buffalo native, graduated from Canisius College and served eight years in the Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany and Alaska. When he returned to Buffalo, he enrolled in UB's MBA program and, with a fellow student, started developing the original plan for MemoryFox.
The business now has eight employees, and Miano hopes to add two or three more this year. In June, MemoryFox will move into UB's incubator inside the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on Ellicott Street.
MemoryFox will put most of the $100,000 investment from the UB fund toward its platform, with an eye toward scaling up the business next year, Miano said. "We spent the last year learning from our early customers what features and workflows will be required to service the largest number of customers in the best way possible," he said.