A Reflection on the 2019 43North Finals as We Welcome the 2021 Cohort

After a tumultuous two years, the 43North finals returned for 2021! As we celebrate and welcome the winners of this acclaimed event, we look back on the last 43North finals from 2019 when we had the great honor of competing for 43North’s $1M prize.

At the time, we were a small startup located right in the heart of Buffalo, NY. The team–much like today–was eager, ambitious, and ready to take on the challenge of pitching at the 43North finals. After months of hard work, audits, data collecting, presentation revisions, and many, many, many cups of coffee, our CEO and Founder, Irfan Khan, was ready to take the stage. Joining us under the big lights were 15 other finalists and of the 16 total startups, only half would be chosen as winners. That night, we were one of them.

“Going to Shea’s was fun as a whole team and getting to hear about the other finalists...there was full team participation. When we found out we were one of the winners, we all got together to celebrate–it was amazing!” - Colin Myers, Project Manager TrialJourney, Circuit Clinical, who was there during the competition.

As one of the winners of 43North, we took home a prize of $500K, a year of occupancy in 43North’s beautiful new office space in Seneca One Tower, and a full support team of 43North mentors, professionals, and growth experts. In January of 2020, we moved into our new home right on the 24th floor. Our team was excited to begin planning for the new year and all that they would accomplish–little did we know what was waiting for us.

“One of the most exhilarating moments that I have experienced as a Founder was pitching on the 43North stage...nothing can really prepare you for that feeling of pitching in front of over 3,000 people,” - Irfan Khan, Founder and CEO, Circuit Clinical, who had pitched on stage with Michelle Fischer, former SVP of Operations, Circuit Clinical.

In March 2020, just 3 months after joining the 43North Incubator, the COVID-19 pandemic had arrived in Buffalo, NY. We had to fully switch to remote working and pivot to accommodate the unforeseen circumstances. However, even during this transition, the 43North community stepped in to support our team in any way they could–from fun virtual events (hello virtual wine tasting!) and lively Slack groups to workshops and professional advice, the 43North team kept the incubator spirit alive! Not only that, but with the funding we had received from the 43North competition, we were able to face COVID-19 head-on. We supported clinical trials to develop new ways of diagnosing COVID-19 and were also able to grow our team and culture.

As 2021 was underway, we entered a high-growth phase with our new strategic partnership with Labcorp and the closing of our Series B, which had incredible local support from the WNY Impact Investment Fund, Buffalo Angels II, Rochester Angels, Launch NY, and individuals from Charles Lannon’s investment network among other funding sources–many of which we were introduced to through 43North’s network. The 43North team continued to provide us with marketing guidance to get our message out and strategic advisement from their mentor network.

“We are a WNY committed team...Not only are we committed to supporting the community in WNY, but we are also committed to our engagement within the startup ecosystem. We are thankful to be part of this local ecosystem and to have the support from our community, including Colleen Heidinger from 43North, Jack Greco, John Gavigan, Norma and Christina from UB, the team at StartUpNY, and Tom Schwab, Candice Johnson, and Laurie Smith from the team at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Through their support, we have been able to grow within Buffalo and become a successful startup.”

All of this to say, we are incredibly thankful for all the opportunities that 43North and the Buffalo startup ecosystem have given us, along with the incredible talent that we’ve been able to bring to Western New York. We look back on how far we’ve and turn forward to where we plan to go–knowing that we have the community rooting us on.

We congratulate the 2021 43North winners, BetterMynd, Big Wheelbarrow, FLOX – The Healthy Chicken Company, Infiuss Health, ShearShare, Verivend, Zealot Interactive, and the grand prize winner, Top Seedz, as they prepare to move into their new office at Seneca One Tower! We’ve experienced first-hand how amazing and life-changing this program is and what 43North brings to the startups that make their home in Buffalo.

Learn more about the 2021 43North Winners, check out the story from Buffalo Rising: https://www.buffalorising.com/2021/10/buffalos-top-seedz-snags-1-million-top-prize-43north-competition/ 

And to check out the other winner of the 2019 43North Finals, check out the story here: https://www.43north.org/governor-cuomo-announces-1-million-grand-prize-winner-of-43north-3/