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NYS Announces $1 Million Grand Prize Winner of 43North

Media Release

SparkCharge Wins $1 Million Grand Prize in $5 Million Startup Competition

 Top 8 Finalists Awarded out of 485 Total Competing Startups

New York State today announced SparkCharge as the $1 million grand prize winner of the fifth annual 43North competition. The top eight finalists of the $5 million startup competition were announced at an awards ceremony in Buffalo this evening. For the fifth straight year, 43North awarded a total of $5 million in cash prizes, free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors and access to other business incentive programs to eight startups from around the world.

“The 43North competition has made Buffalo a top destination for some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs across the globe,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am proud to welcome all of these innovative 2018 43North winners and look forward to seeing their projects in action, further energizing the economy of Western New York.”

“We’re continuing the momentum of innovation with the internationally recognized 43North competition with Round 5 of the awards, and I congratulate all of the winners,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today’s announcement.  “The 43North business plan competition is attracting the best and the brightest aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world to Buffalo, fueling the economy of Western New York.”

The Winners of the 2018 43North Competition are:

SparkCharge – Hometown: Syracuse, New York – $1,000,000 Winner

SparkCharge offers a portable electric vehicle charging unit that is small, ultra-fast, and modular. Since SparkCharge’s chargers are compact, they can be delivered to an EV owner on demand via Uber, Lyft or AAA. This creates a mobile on-demand charging infrastructure allowing electric vehicle owners to have their cars charged fast and anywhere.

Forsake – Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts – $500,000 Winner

Forsake designs all-weather footwear for travel and adventure. Their goal is to bring a higher level of versatility to your feet, and their products blend outdoor technology, rugged construction, and versatile styling. Forsake’s footwear is inspired by the mountains and fit for every journey.

HiOperator – Hometown: San Francisco, California – $500,000 Winner

HiOperator provides customer service as a service. They help companies overcome the classic challenges of customer service through a combination of automation, technology and amazing people.

Immersed Games – Hometown: Gainesville, Florida – $500,000 Winner

Immersed Games helps teachers deliver hands-on, Next Generation Science learning with a video game. The game, Tyto Online, builds science and engineering skills with student experiences like solving an invasive species problem, building ecosystems, and breeding dragons. Teachers assign standards-aligned content and receive student assessments based on gameplay.

Kickfurther – Hometown: Boulder, Colorado – $500,000 Winner

Kickfurther is the world’s first inventory crowdfunding platform where anyone can support the growth of brands they love.

LegWorks – Hometown: Buffalo, New York – $500,000 Winner

LegWorks is a social enterprise revolutionizing access to high quality prosthetics for amputees. They believe that every amputee, no matter where they live, has the right to walk with confidence. They design, manufacture and distribute innovative and patented prosthetic technologies, and use a tiered pricing model to serve diverse patients globally.

Magnusmode – Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario – $500,000 Winner

Magnusmode leverages mobile technology to help people with autism and cognitive special needs live with greater inclusion and independence. The company’s flagship product, MagnusCards, helps people worldwide to learn life skills (e.g. cooking, traveling, personal care) through partnership with content producing customers including Colgate, CIBC, A&W, and Toronto Pearson Airport.

NaturAll Club – Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – $500,000 Winner

NaturAll Club uses food technology to offer the first hair products on the market made from fresh ingredients like avocado pulp, bananas and coconut cremeNaturAll Club connects customers with the right hair ingredients using an algorithm quiz on itseCommerce.

The final round of pitching this evening was a culmination of the fifth annual 43North competition, an application and judging process that began in March. 18 finalists were pared down to 10 companies, which advanced and pitched before seven expert judges that ultimately determined the 2018 43North winners. 

43North expert judges included:

• Aashish Tripathi, Co-founder and Head of Business for Amazon Launchpad

• Arturo Nuñez, Founder of AIE Creative

• Chris Heivly, Co-founder of MapQuest

• Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner of GSV AcceleraTE      

• Mahala Burn, PhD, bioMérieux

• Rochelle Stewart, Advisor for the Morgan Stanley Multi-Cultural Innovation Lab 

• Woody Benson, Tech professional and investor

43North Board Chair Eric Reich said, “Tonight was an incredible demonstration of the continued validation of our competition’s commitment to quality of our applicants. I’d like to congratulate our eight tremendous winners, especially SparkCharge, our grand prize winner. We welcome them to Buffalo.” 

43North President Alex Gress said, “The community came out strong tonight to support 8 of the new startups that will begin their journey in Buffalo. It was thrilling for me to host the finals tonight and I congratulate all the winners and finalists for an amazing event.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Western New York welcomes and congratulates this year’s remarkable 43North winners, whose exciting and innovative pitches have admitted them to the competition’s growing group of winning startups that are showing the world how Buffalo supports entrepreneurial success.”

John R. Koelmel, New York Power Authority Chairman and Buffalo business leader said, “NYPA is proud to sponsor this outstanding competition year after year and we congratulate the 2018 winners who we know will do their part to contribute to the growing entrepreneurial spirit here in Buffalo as the next cohort.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and SolEpoxy Inc. President Jeff Belt said, “Thanks to New York State and 43North Western New York is growing its reputation as an exciting, affordable, hotspot for serious entrepreneurs. We congratulate this year’s winners who will become a part of a diverse group of up -and- coming startups that are focused on building the businesses and jobs of the future.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of the State University of New York at Fredonia Dr. Virginia Horvath said, “Congratulations to the extraordinary winners of this year’s 43North competition. We look forward to welcoming you to Western New York where you will become a vital part of the growing startup community.”

About 43North 

43North is the $5 million startup competition, awarding cash prizes to some of the best entrepreneurs and startups from around the world. 43North winners also receive free incubator space in Buffalo for one year, guidance from mentors in related fields, and access to other business incentive programs such as START-UP NY. 43North operates through the support of NYS’s Buffalo Billion initiative and grants from Empire State Development and the New York Power Authority. Additional support comes from several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit

Tags: 43North Winners, Press Release

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