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Exc on Board to Lead International Biz Competition


A $5 million international business plan competition, which includes a $1 million top prize and requires the winner to relocate to Buffalo, is gearing up for an early February launch.

Jordan Levy and Andrew Pulkrabek are leading the competition, which is focused on fostering entrepreneurship within Western New York.

As steering committee chairman, Levy will provide strategic oversight for the competition on a volunteer basis. Pulkrabek, in his role as executive director, will be the competition’s chief manager, coordinating sponsorships, funding, implementation, marketing/promotion, recruitment, applicant evaluation, mentoring, incubator space supervision, rules compliance, and additional venture capital opportunities for winners.

The international business plan competition, part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, will be the largest annual business plan challenge in the U.S. based on award amount and is intended to attract entrepreneurs and investors from around the world.

Pulkrabek was most recently a corporate development, strategy, and finance consultant to venture capital and private equity firms. He relocated to Western New York from Minneapolis to oversee the yet-to-be-named competition, which was part of the Buffalo Billion/Build it Buffalo initiative. He was chosen after a national search.

“When I came on board in November, it was a traditional startup, where we had to pull everyone together, and this past week, we brought on three more people,” Pulkrabek said.

The competition Is being run through Launch NY, a nonprofit created in 2012 to support high-growth business ventures.

In May, New York Power Authority trustees approved $5.4 million in funding for the competition, which stemmed from a recommendation by the WNY Power Proceeds Allocation Board to apply revenues from the sale of unused hydropower.

Of that, $4 million would be used as prize money, including a $1 million top prize and secondary $500,000 awards. The remaining $1.4 million will be used for advertising and
marketing. Winners are required to stay in Buffalo for one year. The goal is to generate more local startups, attract more venture funding and help minorities start businesses.

Pulkrabek said that after the February launch, a four-month period for entrepreneurs to apply will follow. Judging will commence toward the end of summer, with winners
announced in October.

Levy said that the competition, part of the regional council and Buffalo Billion, is intended to be a five-year plan, but they’re only funded for one.

“If we’re successful, we’ll continue to be funded,” he said.

Additional details on the competition, including the official name, contest rules, and a website will be made public in the coming weeks.

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