Feature Stories

Rising tech titan Ivory Robinson is building HarpData in Buffalo…and beyond

As a communications consultant in the U.S. Air Force, Ivory Robinson traveled the world before settling in D.C. He had no intention of launching his own IT business, much less locating it in Buffalo. However circumstances and a chance visit led him back home. That visit led to him becoming the founder and CEO of HarpData Solutions in 2016; the company is an information technology (IT) consulting and advisory firm. Robinson grew up on the East Side of Buffalo and joined the U.S. Air For

Capital Connect makes it easier for WEDI to help new business owners

Before Capital Connect began, new entrepreneurs would approach one of Buffalo’s four main Community Development Financial Institutions directly. This worked fine if the borrower and the lender were the right fit. However, CDFIs would often send applicants to a different CDFI, based on their needs and plans, which made the process confusing and time consuming. Now, Capital Connect has eliminated that extra step and directs entrepreneurs to the best CDFI for them, based on their application. And C

Upstate Capital Connect helps Buffalo’s underserved entrepreneurs find money, mentoring, and more

Many new entrepreneurs envision a great idea for a new business, but don’t know where to start. They have a goal and a drive to succeed, but may struggle getting access to capital. This is especially true in underserved minority and immigrant communities in Western New York. That’s where Upstate Capital Connect comes in. Upstate Capital Connect joins four local Community Development Financial Institutions-- Launch NY, PathStone Enterprise Center, the West Side Economic Development Initiative (W

Invest Buffalo Niagara lures companies to Buffalo from both sides of the border

Carolyn Powell helped Canadian-based SWS Warning Lights Inc., relocate to WNY. The advanced manufacturing company was able to manufacture its first line of Made in USA products within its first year in the US. Carolyn Powell helped Canadian-based SWS Warning Lights Inc., relocate to WNY. The advanced manufacturing company was able to manufacture its first line of Made in USA products within its first year in the US. Invest Buffalo NIagara Carolyn Powell helped Canadian-based SWS Warning Lights

Recent UB grads are taking their company to the next level

UB engineering and MBA grads Ryan Jaquin and Shane Nolan launched their music electronics startup Bitcrusher (later renamed Algorythm Technologies) last year. The company, now known as Aviate Audio, develops next generation music electronic devices designed to elevate the player's performance. UpstartNY originally interviewed the two business partners and music technology pioneers in May of 2018. Since then, a lot has changed. After winning the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship C

Buffalo’s Small Business Administration gives local entrepreneurs credit and expertise

Small business means big business for our local economy, and the Small Business Administration has helped local entrepreneurs grow and thrive for decades. The federal government created the SBA in 1953 with a mission to aid, assist, and counsel small businesses, and the agency has been doing that ever since. Last year, the Small Business Administration’s Buffalo office created 8,000 jobs through its lending program. The SBA’s Buffalo district director, Frank Sciortino, explained how success

Build4Scale Workshop helps Buffalo’s manufacturing entrepreneurs move prototypes into production

Approximately 35 inventors, researchers, product developers, and manufacturers, representing about 20 local companies, attended a national training program on Oct. 10 sponsored by FuzeHub, the statewide New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership center. The Build4Scale Workshop, a free training program intended to help product developers accelerate their innovations’ path to production, was funded by a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The Build4Scale Workshop focused on trying t

New program will help cleantech startups move their products from the lab to the factory floor

Manufacturing is the most misunderstood step in launching a new hardware product. It’s also the most complex, time-consuming, and costly phase in commercializing new technologies. New York state’s Manufacturing Corps Pilot Program, or M-Corps, will help startups and manufacturers work closely together to overcome the manufacturing obstacles that keep emerging technologies from fulfilling untapped market demands for cleaner, more efficient, and less-costly energy use. Backed by $4 million from t

Sustainability and creativity are a perfect and profitable match for local co-working spaces

Today’s local co-working spaces and business incubators are making their offices more environmentally friendly, and they find it benefits in more ways than one. Green workspaces and offices can cut costs and save energy. Sustainable office practices also attract the creative and innovative startups that drive the 21st century economy. These clients want clean and green workplaces, and they’ll locate where they can find them. The Tri-Main Center on Main Street in Buffalo, a local co-working

Minority and women entrepreneurs get a boost from the Allstate Foundation and UB

Allstate MWEE program’s Protégé of the Year, Allison DeHonney, accepts the award from Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management. Allstate MWEE program’s Protégé of the Year, Allison DeHonney, accepts the award from Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management. Allstate MWEE program’s Protégé of the Year, Allison DeHonney, accepts the award from Paul Tesluk, dean of the UB School of Management. If you're a woman or a member of the minority communities with a dream to take your busin

Wine-loving entrepreneurs create app for fellow enthusiasts

Dan Roycroft and Scott Steffan have always loved wine and wanted to find a way to access high-quality wines. They considered buying wine preservation systems and renting them out to restaurants to make the wines they were interested in available in the local area, but the cost was too high. Then they turned to mobile apps, and OpenBottle was born. Using Reserve-a-Glass technology, the OpenBottle app lets restaurants make bottle(s) of high-end wine available for customers to purchase by the glas

Wearable sensor technology gets its start at Startup Weekend

Entrepreneurship runs in Brendon Dever’s family. His father owned his own graphic design firm for 25 years, and Dever, himself, worked as a self-employed barber and operated other businesses during his college years. So, after several years working for other companies, including Delaware North and New Era, he decided it was time to move in a new direction. Dever and his colleagues had the concept for Heads Up Safe, but no prototypes. So they attended Startup Weekend, an event that connects

Q&A with Scott Friedman, the venture capitalist who funds Buffalo’s new economy startups

Smart people with great ideas inspire Scott Friedman, and he has the money to help them along. He and his partners discovered that Western New York is one of the most productive areas for intellectual property in the country. We suffer, however, from a lack of organized venture capital. So Friedman built Impact Capital to fill that void and help launch great innovations created right here in WNY. What is your background and what inspired you to become involved with venture capital? I’m a

In Focus: Adam Stotz of Trove Predictive Data Science mines data with Buffalo talent

Big data and data mining are arguably the hottest commercial trends today. Every company collects data, and lots of it. But few know what to do with it. Adam Stotz, a graduate of the University at Buffalo and chief technology officer of Trove Predictive Data Science, creates data mining software to interpret data, segment markets, prevent fraud, predict business trends, and improve search tools. Stotz taps into local talent to help. Stotz’s first job in the field was in the Information Science

New business startups help lift Buffalo’s residents out of poverty

Business incubators including the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Invest Buffalo Niagara, Buffalo Manufacturing Works, and other organizations have helped jump start this area’s once lagging local economy. New York state’s Buffalo Billion program has invested $1 billion into economic development projects in Western New York. Business competitions such as 43North have made the Buffalo region more attractive to potential investors and entrepreneurs. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that B
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