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Top Seedz is crackers over winning 43North $1M top prize

Smoke and digital fireworks fill the stage at Shea's Buffalo Thursday evening, as Top Seedz was announced the $1 million winner.
Mike Desmond
Smoke and digital fireworks fill the stage at Shea's Buffalo Thursday evening, as Top Seedz was announced the $1 million winner.

The crackers are organic, gluten-free, vegan, made here and the winner of the $1 million top prize and a year of free space at Seneca One in the annual 43North business competition.

Smoke and digital fireworks filled the stage, as a packed house at Shea's Buffalo watched the winners be named Thursday evening.

A judge in the competition last night said Top Seedz isn't very techy but it is "joby" and that's why the panel of judges chose the firm headed by a transplanted New Zealander, a kiwi.

"I was so impressed with Top Seedz," said judge Brian Brackeen. "The business model, the founder. This thing is always about the founder, really. She's bubbly, bright, intelligent. She knows the business well."

Top Seedz Founder Rebecca Brady stands on stage in front of people.
Top Seedz was founded by Rebecca Brady.

Founder Rebecca Brady said her company has 20 employees operating from a bakery site near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport — for now.

"We've got a couple of different things in the works here," she said. "We're not sure exactly what we'll do. But we have a great landlord at the moment."

Top Seedz has a rapidly rising list of stores selling company products, although Brady said none of the ingredients come from around here.

The description of the company products used in an earlier stage, which narrowed the contestants to Thursday's 10 finalists, said "artisan crackers and roasted seeds packed with nutrition and flavor using the simplest ingredients that nature provides. We want the seeds to shine!"

The crowd at She's Buffalo
Mike Desmond
It was a full house at Shea's Buffalo Thursday, as 43North announced its winners.

Brady said she now wants the help the competition.

"The connections. I'm looking for the mentorship," she said.

43North now wants those additional jobs. The City of Buffalo said over 800 new jobs have been created as a result of 43North.

The entrants winning a $500,000 prize range from a company providing online mental therapy for college students to a company using machine vision to improve farmed chicken health and well-being.

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.