43 North

On Target with Penny Wolfgang
Sunday, June 10th

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

This is on target with penny Wolfgang a program that takes an inside look at what is happening in Western New York with the news features and special guests. Now here's your host honey Wolfgang. Hi everybody thank you so much for joining me in on target. And the host penny Wolfgang and it's my pleasure to talk to every weekend. We tried talk about subjects that we think are important in into sting in educational for all of us who live here in the west new York community. And introduce you to people who are working here. In Western Europe in making a difference in the humane act we know about her know who they are or. They may be doing something that is influencing Ewing and important to your everyday lives whether it be the economy. Or rounds in DR health welfare safety you know they. My favorite subject line no letters so today though the economy is is on our mind. On everybody's mind both sent presidential it's the economy stupid many years ago that campaign here and so and there is there a group that I could hurt that recently. Can you probably are I hope my listen south are more familiar with it even it's called 43 north. And I think it will find out more about it but I think the mission is in many ways to improve our economy. And particularly as it relates to on Japan Norris and businesses and bringing in new businesses but. I don't wanna be the one to tell you so because I just have this like superficial knowledge having read about it in missed some people involved however. In the studio with us is. The newly appointed president. Of 43 north Alec grass. And he is going to tell us about it and I just fanned out to fully and in the air and I'll let you know. And he will let you know that even though he it is only been in this role. A very short time he's actually they are returning one of the X. Patriots we college. That we love to hear about who was from buffalo. Left and came back that is our favorite Alex's our favorite category goods well that's next to the won it's it's it's next to our favorite as well as people who. Are from new York and come here and live and and may have a career here and spend your life here. And that's because that's me but other. And at that that we love I love to check your Tivo Hulu and sometimes it I didn't even know it when I guess say gee. That's an accent like mine you know and I thought you are from buffalo and they're not so. Alex is however so I would like it if you would tell us in his first of all thank you for coming in second apple about yourself. Well just as well thank you for having me on this morning and he's been around it and here. He I think I'm I'm a bit of buffalo classics boomerang story and as we've coined the word boomerang you know. A while back and feel like I grew up here. When I was here through high school my him my parents you know still live here they've been here for 45 years. My father just retired from TJ cases college for most of that time. Found the like a lot of us you know I graduated high school in 1991. And and that was it was a classic generation that went away. And we went to until already university. And then falling. Just if pursued a career and you know sergeant accounting him and my dad's footsteps. CPA price Waterhouse event for a few years and went investment banking capital markets in New York. And GM charge your career in and worked there for six years and then held on to eight years in London. Newly married. Sort of build a family overseas and then falling four years in Toronto and and that that for most of that time. Felt like tells of the opportunities. That that we had to take and we had to build her career her experiences. Her award stretch every one of the call it. You know broad public a lot of us put a lot of us now still have family back here in Western New York. Loved visiting. And you know I would say that. In in around trying to 112012. We at that point in my mind my journey if you wanna call it. Three young kids to another country now to twelve years. And one of our I had morphed from the investment banking capital markets private equity that to investing into early start companies. And at that point happened. To be headquartered in Toronto. You know obviously. Was happy to do that for the most part because there in the footsteps of states footsteps of buffalo. Could see our families in a very easily by lights are they from Pittsburgh but we letter in the buffalo and you know from time to time. And down from and CEO one of our investments was actually here in in western new York and at that time and it's fortunate just watching it grow and then in build and develop and so it really got my juices. Our cheeses are always kind of flowing are bought the above the buffalo expects users are always kind of on the go. I then added that Mueller I don't know band London veteran judge that you lacks the bills games and you went to a bar where at which everything does when they should win they eat chicken wings and much to bills can't have. Have to look at the you have to got to give ago now they have it in London and I definitely have insurance you know I can tell you that. It's one of the reasons he stayed as long we did London was. But they ended up bringing on more you know sports better north American sports channels for. That's a tax that's due to lots of different programs and then you know this is also in the early two thousands of the it's light streaming just wasn't as strong as it is as it is today about. You know you find your ways and you you you state you find your ex factory where you are. But. You know I would say in them around 2014. My life and I am with three young kids really wanted to return in the states and you know for us and buffalo Western New York. We clearly have my family connection mail us census so we are fortunate to. To return. My my personal story is I would if I wanted to come back and if I could've come back as a as a way to directly invest into our community so I would've done that. I was fortunate that at that time there's an opportunity was first mega bank. And be their corporate treasurer you know and I enjoy that and was very really able to help that he should not we could ultimately. Halted the sale process as well to to keep it. And then my journey. Took me two commuting between buffalo and Cleveland. We're about two years following the closing of that that cell and just hoping to keep the parts put together and and done. You know was was working for for keybank and and you know it great opportunity great organization that really as people there even now from in Cleveland my my heart certainly family. And my passions were really back in this in this region this area. So when my predecessor John Kennedy announced he was stepping down from 43 north and we want to pursue other opportunities. A light went off. Like fold like an economics over your head totally and I should you know that's something that. You know how powerful my hat in the ring for Tom. And it may seem all of that of a departure for some people that know me for you go back to some of the things I've done in my past. Working for big banks have been also investing directly and it's our it's not I think. If you make some sense in so. I tip my hat in the ring and then next thing you know I'm here in front of you can get. Right in the and the rest of the story and that's the story and a well when you say and that it you know it kind of falls in line with your interest. I wanted to listen is to get like a background like to know what. 43 north is what it means yes so today so it it's still early it in its in its generation's life cycle we're going in or fifth year. So for between north right now runs one of the world's largest. Startup competitions. Every year. We invest five million into about. You know eight to nine companies that that comment from all over the world. So as we did you sit here today. I named her fifth year we have we've brought in to buffalo. 37. Total companies. You know clearly a most of North America some as far as. In Asia in Israel. And you know we've. Created so far about 200 jobs through that process. And I think this is really the tip of the iceberg as is as we see here today. We're continuing. To. Enhance our model. And recruit to identify. Him from across the world. You know high quality companies. And companies that really in their minds in the business plans find synergy with buffalo. And we have the opportunity you know through our program. Which is funded through governor Andrew caused buffalo billion initiative. To identify and bring them into buffalo we do that through competition so. Big keys and interest in pieces excitable shark tank like appeal when it comes down to it at the final stages and when they're out when there but there. We get down to the final ten or so companies and their onstage competing. And the top company. People will walk away with a million dollar investment. And the others will average draw of 500000. So I think the capital that is invest in his companies is real. It's a significant life changer. Prefer for these founders. And as part of that you know they've relocate to buffalo and operate here. And we do we facilitate. You know for them all forms of via business development. Helping them with real estate. On helping them with identifying talent in recruiting and doing what we can test to help. Help them get to that there next stage and create you know real long jedi for. For the operator. He's the most upbeat program folks that we've had a long time for a although sip at buffalo that we just sacked too was similar I just wanna tell you as it is synergy there and I I was at net. If you just tuned in you're listening to on target with the host penny will staying in depth. Today we have the pleasure to be talking to Alec crest who's the president of 43 north. What do you 43 north organization is called you must know wistfully feed north mean it's a latitude of where buffalo sits. More attention did you know that didn't know I often I've seen it so many times and I feel like. And so it was very clever than OK actually did know it's good it's good afternoon. Well what if you like and it's a fact that I. This regard. Eleven right now ha action now this is and then now you think latitude and longitude so reluctant to tour and well. They at least at least they have signed into its what are the other militant don't ask me this Fisher. And joining us Jim Talent ranked between her and everything. I wanted to hear it's really exciting to have a an organization dedicated. To bringing in business. And on Japan yours and physicists to western new because packet is said to be hitting it the economy is. We'll let you said more more than I do even if it's changed and grown so much since you. Were young in left in and followed it from far away that it's and it is had an amazing turnaround. He had any pain I mean. It was these you know Negroponte and a lot of people obviously we felt we had to go away and right now I have I have three young children thirteen ten and sex and look I I want them. To do whatever it is they they want to do professionally or personally and professionally. If if those roads in that they're journeys. Take them you know. Outside of question your tip out of the country the way with the way you my wife and I did great you know that I'm I'm the biggest supporter. If on the other hand. We create more local and they offer a hair different. You were they can stay that's excellent and that says that that influences me alive in terms of talking to us in what was tropical. When I think about what personally drew me. To this opportunity certainly and you can do that leverages your background in your experiences. It's going to and you can find ways to repackage that and it in this to me was a form that I they can take for me to help you know the region and and contribute. But but it. Did the mission of helping to create the industrial ecosystem ecosystem for for buffalo. Is important enemy have to also understand it takes time to build that you know if if we do this well. We will build the next generation of companies and customers across Western New York care which full. Create you know opportunities jobs fell impact you know suppliers vendors service providers you know all across this region. And you know. That that's really what what we want them in the process. You know opportunity bulletins to state they wanna stay or more importantly with a lot of people my peer group. Who want to come back but don't know exactly what's the right form of re engagement how do they come back what jobs are available. And then hopefully this is just a part of building that. As she did to view my own daughter I don't know line of thought that Tim because she is like you she left for college. Four career. And was in Washington was an Annapolis was in Virginia was not here at all and then got an opportunity. To come back to Western New York with their last five or six years and here she is. As a public relations director of community during the community relations director for city. Great right here in west New York so it's again you know the right timing leaves the boomerang wanting to come back but you know needing the opportunity. So. I'm curious tonight and about the nitty gritty and I'm sure Ellison is would like to know. How Frist will how do you get the word out. Choose to people who are competing in me to be. Don't kind of growth which called winner our iron charity recipients of the awards roughly three north he you know it's a competition so wedded to people with it. People cup. From 22 groups of companies it's a it's a great quote it's a great question you know over the years for the north has been building its brand. Nationally handled it globally and so I would hit a majority of for applicants really come from what we call direct referral process. You know we probably. You know an organization of focus for three north. Maintain and have relations for the over 400. Different stakeholders in those are other venture capital investors. Other what we'll call accelerator. Type programs or incubators. Across the country where startups go to kind of you know it. Benefit from programming and mentor ship. And so we have touch points without 400 of these stakeholders. Who really end up directing these applicants to us and so it's truly a referral basis. So I think that's a that's a prime feeder for us the other thing other major way we recruit. Is really to just a direct public application process about two months ago. We publicly announce re opened the window to accept applications directly to our website for three north. Dot org. And we closed that window. Actually last week on May 31 at midnight. And through the referral process. Through the direct public application process anybody. That meets certain criteria that we have our website can apply. You know for around the world. We close with four and 85 applications. This past weekend so feeling. And very very good about that's enormous I mean I'm sure it's grown every year to an eight you know from the start for him at his age didn't that this is how I would describe it. It's it's less about that that top line number before 85. Then it is about the types of applications were getting. And the quality and I think it's good good present cynics question yeah I mean. I mean right now part of they vetting process and for people that kind of come into the application. You know we're looking for companies that have raised their party capital typically around half a million. You know maybe sometimes beyond the typical friends or family around so they got a little bit of validation from third party capital. They've got a couple of full time employees. And but more and more importantly what we're doing now more strongly than this year than pastors. Is really focusing on their plans to operate in buffalo. How are they demonstrating. Not just a desire to move. But how they planned to operate within our ecosystem if so what suppliers they identified it could be key to their business. You know what conservation they identified here to be here a business you know what potential you know. Access to fight for our university system technology. You know our medical system you know what what what attributes there. You know could could really help facilitate the next to that of their development and those companies that demonstrate. So it's sometimes I would say it's less about the capitalist at the full time for the it's more about their ability demonstrate. A willingness to relocate which is key for us and ability to operate here. Is more important. So these are not necessarily new ventures he's our existing companies from other places that you left. Trying to lured to her west in New York basically can't. And some of them some of them could be brand new but have there is still haven't fully commercialized and they're operations. I was in majority though are certainly pre revenue. In there and their life cycle. But some examples. Of companies that have either it. Successfully of you know one in the past or have been have applied he certain types of businesses if you. Look let's go into that's going to last year's winner so. We have about you know these are some companies that were were winners last year from a million. One million is the top prize. Down to 500000. Now our top prize. Last year went to comic called Selma that attacked. And really what they are is. They're pioneers in the dairy industry. And they're really helping to facilitate identify. Anything that is harmful and you know cow milk supply. And so for them they're actually out of New Brunswick in Canada they re with relocated here and so for them. What's the access to our inner Western New York area. Our dairy farms. You know was was it is too strong. Component of their business model it test your product or customer base that that's pretty exciting we have another company. Kangaroo time that's really providing all of the middle and back office support for child daycare centers early learning centers and so think about they automate. All of did that billing the two historical manual billing process. That goes on in daycare centers not to mention the ability for families that she do. Real time almost his track and have real engagement with with their for their children who are in these you have various like early learning or daycare centers. And so I find some of that stuff just actually fascinating. I'm so there's two recent examples of what we have in the portfolio. We have another company called birther fitness that. You know us providing a wellness platform. For corporate customers as well as well so we're really agnostic I would say two to the company I would go back to. How they operate in buffalo and what they find the synergy here that more and more an interesting aspects to us. In who'll let it judges who make distinct. Now I don't know if you can name them I didn't really know if people Rick has his name but you mean like what is that background and the people besides yourself I assume you who make the decision as to who is going to a guest to come here you know look. Also the first words were not judges thought. Now okay Larry are now I'm. First volatility is about for the north Ali your neck judges I got it again it's a comment I couldn't do discus and you know anything event. We'll Hamdan. Don't get a good and it delicate they have to follow up. From mangalore our team had. The part of what I love. About four from north I love about. Buffalo and. And and appliances is. This since sheer desire that people want. Us to go to the next level they want success they've they've they we we come from a place where historically. You know generations ago we were such an innovative. You know economy. You know week to go back to our list of accomplishments and force they they they they stand ninety years ago some of them but we were leaders and you know we've we've built the first air conditioner recreated the coffee straight and a couple of things that means I have all these funny little ahead of our that's funny but yeah you know it's true lightning we had electric lights and it even better actually reenact we were the city of its. Mean we were incidents. They hover over the decades now that that that innovation Lawson returned programs like this and the five and what and we to spoke about it if Pryor against what were were regaining that that momentum is coming back and so. Was also about 43 north is that. When you bring in as we have this year for an 85 companies. We we go through various rounds. Of judging. As you can imagine a general judging. Process testaments to. And we recruit from our community here. Anywhere from 35. To two. Maybe double that in terms of judges that will come in. And and spend volunteer their time to provide written score in these companies and sit through video pitches before we leave this down. To about forty companies over the course of this August. Of then then which we. Recruit have a little more national level type judges. That you know where we. Wolf in the finals and slow and a look forward to coming back and talking about that in kind of the near future who actually sit onstage. And that creates a little bit of that shark tank like feel and atmosphere. But leading up to that. We have all business civic regional. Educational leaders. University. People from across our our whole you know it's a system here. Who are contributing are involved in their time. To vet itself really this is a true example the community kind of coming together to identify the next generation of companies and customers here. We went into very complicated and long process and then it does culminate in something and then had seen which made me realize that. What a good subject this would be. It's and it's a matter if it's open to the public but there is like a presentation. In the putt if the press covers it when I read about it where they actually. Make the final decision or else I don't know it's like shark check I mean maybe they pertaining to make a decision but in any case. Now it's real idea I mean you will I did this all culminates. The first week of October on stage and chase. That's what I was thinking event and it's open to the public. We would love. Have people anyone who wants to come be available to common see you achieve that night at shades. Probably the final ten or so. Companies vying for that top investment of a million dollars. And it's awesome and they go through about you know three to four. Me about three minutes in a presentation. And then just who the judges will asked various questions for a ten or so minutes. Severity it's a very neat process and let it Iowa yes there wasn't in my curl last year I was I was. Personally a spectator I was sitting in the stands. You know watching this you know thing how often this is a great program says. And and also thinking god similarly just asked what is the infrastructure for this because it's all come together. The funny part is an article that. And and fortunately. For us and I and my listeners who got to come and shared always Silas and is on and on target I really do appreciate we know. We will remind people win in the fall when he is in October in case any Burleson is one either. It's like you just said to go in and watch and learn more about it because it's really fascinating and again. We have been talking to you a listening to on target and we have been talking to Alex grass the president of 43 North Fork. Which you can find in mind if you want more information that flew just like I gave you and thanks so much in. We're so happy and lucky that you came back to Western New York Alex and hey we appreciate you listening everybody have a good week and we'll see you again next week and I now. You've been listening to one target with any Wolfgang. A program that takes an inside look at Western New York in our community. If you have any comments or suggestions. Please rate depending Wolfgang it's 500 corporate parkway suite 200 Amherst New York. 114 to six.