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19 finalists to compete for $5M in 43North prizes Oct. 28 at Sheas

43North announces its Oct. 28 competition.
43North announces its Oct. 28 competition will feature 19 start-up companies.

The cash is in the bank, Shea's is waiting to host the show and 19 companies have been chosen to tell the judges Oct. 28 why they should be the winners of the annual 43North economic development competition.

It's a $5 million pot to create jobs here in Western New York by attracting companies who say they will locate and grow here.

Everyone involved knows the tale of ACV Auctions, an early 43North winner that went on to become a national powerhouse in the used auto market. It was the first publicly-traded company in the competition's portfolio, making ACV founders and staff rich in an initial public offering.

43North Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Maura Devlin said the quest is always to find other companies that can do as well as ACV.

"That's certainly a goal, right? When we started back in 2014, I think those were the dreams and they became a reality rather quickly, with the rise of ACV," she said, "And so this year's selection process certainly searched for that kind of quality."

"What were asking it's just really going back to that fix for Buffalo, that's really what some of the unique questions that us, as 43North, ask, that's outside of a typical venture capitalist," said CRM and Application Manager Shannon McCabe. "Because at the end of the day, we're all about economic development and building a community, here, in an ecosystem that's emerging."

For the public, which puts up the $5 million in prizes, this isn't some behind-closed-doors competition. Instead, the pitches to the judges are made on the Shea's stage, with the public in the seats usingfree tickets from 43North.

Devlin said there is "global reach" among the finalists, which came from hundreds of initial applicants.

"They're originating from Canada, as well as a couple from the United Kingdom, too, and then, across the United States," she said.

Here are the 19 finalists, as described by the governor's office:

Akala - Beverly Hills, CA

Akala is a college admissions platform that provides customized guidance to students as early as the 8th grade, in order to optimize their college applications.

BetterMynd - Buffalo, NY

BetterMynd is an online therapy platform that partners directly with universities to provide their students access to a diverse network of licensed mental health counselors from the privacy and convenience of their laptops and mobile devices.

Big Wheelbarrow - Austin, TX

Big Wheelbarrow is a software as a service platform that enables food distributors and grocers to manage supply chains in order to meet consumer demand for local food profitably, efficiently, and safely.

BotFactory - New York, NY

BotFactory's 3D printer product uses conductive ink to allow anyone to prototype printed circuit boards in minutes instead of weeks.

Cheelcare - Richmond Hill, Canada

Cheelcare's 3 lines of mobility devices make any manual wheelchair, a powered wheelchair increasing users' independence and comfort while preventing shoulder pain typically caused by the lifelong use of a wheelchair.

FLOX - London, UK

FLOX's machine vision technology enables welfare-first farming; allowing poultry farm owners to improve chicken health & wellbeing, while also operating more ethically, profitably & sustainably.

Infiuss Health - San Jose, CA

Infiuss Health powers remote research/clinical trials with their Software as a service platform, connecting clinical researchers in the US and EU to patient participants in Africa.

Kapitalwise - New York, NY

Kapitalwise's micro-investment platform helps financial institutions pilot and deploy financial wellness tools to their existing customers, such as calculators, content, and templates.

Kilter - Madison, WI

Kilter is a mobile platform that enables people to turn their everyday activities into opportunities to drive charitable dollars to their favorite cause while building culture and community to make a global

Laundris - Manor, TX

Laundris is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that helps hotels optimize and streamline linen management, reducing expenses and operating costs by up to 40%.

Metabob, Inc. - Mountain View, CA

Metabob is an AI-assisted tool that cuts debugging in half by reviewing Python code for hidden errors and performance sinks.

Ognomy - Williamsville, NY

Ognomy's HIPAA compliant telemedicine platform helps people to get tested, diagnosed, and treated for sleep apnea from the comfort of home.

Ontopical Inc. - Calgary, Canada

Ontopical uses machine learning and natural language processing to monitor local governments in order to help customers gain extremely valuable signals of upcoming contract opportunities and business risks related to policy.

ShearShare, Inc. - McKinney, TX

ShearShare is a business-to-business (B2B) mobile platform helping Salon owners drive additional revenue through filling empty salon chairs on-demand, through their matching of salon/barbershop owners with vetted licensed beauty professionals.

Tequity, LLC - Kalamazoo, MI

Tequity's platform gives its clients a no-code solution to building and deploying a successful mobile app in a fraction of the time.

Top Seedz - Buffalo, NY

Top Seedz produces artisan crackers and roasted seeds packed with nutrition and flavor using the simplest ingredients that nature rovides.

VeriTX Corp - East Aurora, NY

VeriTX is a marketplace of digital schematics serving supply chain solutions to customers across the aerospace, medical and industrial markets.

Verivend - Buffalo, NY

Verivend offers the quickest way available to pay and get paid, allowing businesses to transact with all customers and vendors and a digital wallet powering instant B2B and business to consumer (B2C) payments.

Zealot Interactive - Arlington, TX

The best way to learn guitar, Zealot's app offers augmented reality video lessons for real-life musical instruments paired with state-of-the-art hardware.

WBFO's Marian Hetherly contributed to this story.

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.