© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Venture capitalists and startup companies meet at UB event

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

In the world of high-tech and venture capitalism, there are three requirements: entrepreneurs, investors and customers. UB's Bright Buffalo Niagara Entrepreneur Expo on Wednesday looked to bring those parties together.

The event in Hotel Henry offered a $20,000 top prize for five vying companies. Another 16 presenters competed for a $5,000 People's Choice Award.

The presenters had a chance to pitch their product and take questions.

Norma Nowak,a founder of Empire Genomics, is executive director of the state's Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.  She understands the difficulties of getting a business started and the vital search for capital.

"Now, there's an entire support group, both at the university and in our greater community to actually help folks critically analyze the idea that they have, help them develop market plans, help them find investors."

Companies showcasing their products ranged from a software company helping non-profits raise money to a company making barriers for buildings when floods threaten to a company making specially treated pads to help women breastfeed.

On the venture capital side was Jenae Pitts, managing partner for OneTen Capital. The investor specializes in engineering and hardware startups.

"What we don't want to happen is for those (startup) companies to go looking (for capital) in San Francisco or looking in New York City and relocate."

Others saw specific advantages for starting up in the Buffalo area.

"It does appear like there's some great young talent coming out of the local universities that could be great candidates for our company," said Ben Lamson, a co-founder of WeDidIt, a company that develops fund-raising software for non-profits.

"Especially for some of the areas we're looking for talent in machine learning and data science."


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.