City Shaper: The Inventures Group

City Shaper: Keith Blakely

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- This week's City Shaper has made a career out of helping entrepreneurs get off the ground. His name is Keith Blakely, and he's part of a venture capital group that's shaping the business scene of Buffalo and beyond.

2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik spoke with him about what qualities entrepreneurs need to be successful.

"ASI, the million-dollar prize winner of the inaugural 43North competition, was a client of ours," says Blakely.

And the list goes on: Graphine Technologies, NuEnz, and OnCore Golf have all worked with Blakely's strategic consulting firm, The Inventures Group.

"We really are looking to be a little bit of a SWAT team to come in and serve whatever function a startup company needs," says Blakely.

The North Tonawanda native has worked in a bunch of different fields, and ran his own advanced materials business for 20 years before launching The Inventures Group.

"What kind of advice do you have for people who may have an idea, but are a little hesitant or have, you know, a few concerns about going off on their own?" asked Dudzik.

"The challenge, of course, for all start-up companies is access to capital, access to people, making sure that they understand what the hurdles are to actually having a successful business, which are much more than just having a great idea. You have to have a team, you have to be able to execute, you have to have the financial resources to do it," says Blakely.

"How are you able to spot someone who has success written all over them?" asked Dudzik.

"Boy, that's a tough one. I don't think the experience is as important as a willingness to listen, a willingness to consider other people's ideas," says Blakely.

Blakely says he's noticed a change in terms of recruiting talent to Western New York- it's no longer a challenge.

"Whether it was because they thought it was arctic all year-round, or when they came and saw what the atmosphere was like in the downtown section, it was difficult to overcome," says Blakely. "There's a vibe, there's an energy, there's certainly a lot going on, so that has been eliminated as one of the obstacles to getting companies to locate here or to start here and to keep the right talent in place."

"How does it make you feel to know that you're playing a part in the success of these people who without you they might not be successful like that?" asked Dudzik.

"That's the reward. It really is. it's not about the return on investment as much as it's about seeing what can happen in Buffalo, in Western New York, with these budding entrepreneurs actually being successful. That keeps my motor running every day," says Blakely.

Blakely says he wants to keep doing this for the foreseeable future because he enjoys the one-on-one interactions with entrepreneurs.

If you know a City Shaper, you can email Kelly Dudzik.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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