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America's largest business plan competition announced

ALBANY – The launch of the largest business competition in the United States was announced on Wednesday. Details for the Buffalo, New York competition, as well as its new brand, 43North (www.43North.org), were revealed at a press conference at One Canalside, a newly rehabilitated building overlooking the transformative new construction along Buffalo’s waterfront. Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy was on site to make the announcement. The competition—named after the latitudinal line that runs through Western New York—features $5 million in cash prizes, with a top prize of $1 million, and is part of a Buffalo Billion initiative, which is driving new economic opportunities throughout Buffalo and Western New York.

“A few short months ago, we were here in Buffalo to announce the completion of this beautifully redeveloped former state office building,” Lieutenant Governor Duffy said. “Today, we are seeing huge news for Buffalo: the biggest business competition in the nation, right here at One Canalside.”

“For the past decade, Buffalo has slowly and steadily been on the move – you can see it in our skyline, in new, burgeoning neighborhoods like the Medical Campus and Larkinville, and in the organic growth of our business community with exemplary leadership from Eric Reich of Campus Labs, George Chamoun of Synacor and Ashok Subramanian of Liazon,” said 43North Steering Committee Chairman Jordan Levy. “Our city is ready for the next phase in growth and development. I’m excited to be part of the movement that is bringing entrepreneurs to our community and making Buffalo a place where startups are welcomed and encouraged.”

43North is designed to systematically generate new business ventures in Western New York, while providing mentoring and other aid for aspiring entrepreneurs; supporting early-stage firm growth; and attracting additional venture funding. The objective of this bold and proven approach is to position Upstate New York and the Greater Buffalo Niagara region squarely on the map of America’s newest innovation and entrepreneurship hotbeds.

In addition to the top cash prize of $1 million, 43North will award six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes. Winners also receive free incubator space for a year, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs, like Start-Up NY.

43North is open to applicants ages 18 and over from anywhere in the world in any industry, with the exception of retail and hospitality. Winners must agree to operate their business in Buffalo, New York for a minimum of one year.

The competition will be broken down into three rounds, with each round being judged independently of one another.

  • Round 1 (February 5 – May 31): applications from prospective businesses will be accepted via the competition’s website, 43North.org. The purpose of Round 1 is for applicants to provide a vision for their venture, including their business concept, target customers, industry overview, competitive landscape and revenue potential. This submission is not intended to be as comprehensive as a detailed business plan, but should provide the judges with a summary of the major elements of the venture.
  • Round 2 (September 15 – September 20): the semifinalists will present further detail on their plan, along with a 10-minute online presentation to 43North’s judging panel, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The plans put forward in Round 2 will include the venture’s business concept, value proposition, competitive analysis, communication and distribution channels, client relationships, key stakeholders, resources and activities, cost structure, revenue streams and financial considerations.
  • Round 3 (October 27 – October 31): the final stage of the competition is for finalist teams to pitch their business in person to a panel of judges in Buffalo. Each team will have 10 minutes to sell their business idea, followed by 10 minutes of questions. Teams will be assessed on overall organization of the presentation; the team’s ability to ‘sell’ the idea and need for the company; the team’s ability to defend the plan and be responsive to questions; and the quality of the overall plan. The competition concludes with the selection of winners and celebrations.

43North.org will provide applicants with the information needed for the competition, and will feature competition details such as staff, funding and mentor resources, as well as news, updates, videos, social media sharing capabilities, and information about living and working in Western New York.

To spread the word about the competition and attract applicants from across the country and around the world, 43North is embarking on an aggressive roadshow that will include stops in 12 U.S. cities, southern Ontario, India, China and Israel.