BUFFALO, N.Y. — SomaDetect won this year’s 43North competition taking home a $1 million prize. SomaDetect is a startup company that provides dairy farmers with key milk quality indicators. It is based in New Brunswick.
The catch is that the company has to stay in Buffalo for only one year.
An investigation by Charlotte Keith from Investigative Post revealed this week that only three of the 14 previous 43North winners from out of town stayed in Buffalo after the required year was up.
So, we wanted to see what this year's winner plans on doing.
"Do you plan on staying after that first year?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"We absolutely do," said SomaDetect CEO Bethany Deshpande.
"And, how many jobs do you plan on creating in Buffalo?" asked Dudzik.
"So, in our business plan, we anticipate creating 25 jobs throughout 2008 (2018) and another 35 in 2019, and from there we're going to wait and see. We're looking for people with experience in dairy, but across a wide-range from engineers, developers, on-farm technicians and support staff," said Deshpande.
Winners compete each year for a total of $5 million in prizes. The competition is sponsored by the state. It's part of the Buffalo Billion, so you are paying for it.
The winners also get startup space here in return for 43North getting a 5 percent stake in the company and the promise to stay in Buffalo for that first year.
Charlotte Keith spoke with John Gavigan from 43North earlier in the week.
"Of course, we want them to stay. Of course, we want to increase the likelihood that they would want to retain a presence in this community. But as I said before, it takes a village to support our startups. Right? And whether or not a company decides to stay or retain a presence here will be ultimately determined whether or not they have their customers base here, whether or not they have investors, whether or not there's an adequate supply chain," said Gavigan.
Gavigan also said it generally takes twenty years to build an ecosystem for a tech start-up scene and that Buffalo is just a quarter of a way through that journey. He says they've thought about making the year-long requirement longer, but have decided against it because it could stop people from entering the competition.
Squire, an app that lets men book haircuts at barber shops won the $650,000 prize. That company is based in New York City.
One of the half-million dollar prizes went to Burner Fitness, a tech start-up that features four Niagara University students and alumni. They were the only local company that made it to the finals.