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Then & Now: Women Making Their Mark in Buffalo


Not only is March Women’s History Month, 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. While we all attempt to settle into a new normal and turn the page to a new month, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on female leadership and celebrate the impact it’s made here in WNY.

In recent years, the number of female entrepreneurs has skyrocketed, along with venture capital investment raised and female-founded tech unicorns. 2019 was a record-breaking year for women-led startups, raising an all-time high $17.2B in investment. Women founders also accounted for nearly 15% of unicorns – paving the way for what is expected to be even larger growth in 2020.

VC investment raised by women

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, take a look at some pioneers from Buffalo’s past and those leading the charge in today’s startup community.


Louise Blanchard Bethune

Known as the first woman to practice as an architect in U.S., Louise Blanchard Bethune designed many industrial and public buildings, most notably the Hotel Lafayette in downtown Buffalo. She was also selected as the first woman to join the American Institute of Architects.

women-owned businesses

Mary Burnett Talbert

Mary Burnett Talbert was a civil rights activist who paved the way for the establishment of the NAACP. She organized the Niagara Movement in 1905, and later created the Buffalo chapter of the NAACP. She also served as a nurse for the American Red Cross during World War I and was appointed President of the National Association of Colored Women.

Belva Lockwood

Belva Lockwood played a critical role in the women’s suffrage movement as one of the first female lawyers in the country. She was also the first woman to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1884, became the first woman to run for President of the U.S.


We’re proud to say that our portfolio has twice the national average of female founders, with 23% of our portfolio led by women. And this year, we appointed the first female President of 43North, Colleen Heidinger! These women are making a huge impact not only in the Buffalo startup community, but nationwide and around the world. They work across a range of industries and have raised tens of millions of dollars in additional investment since becoming 43North portfolio companies.

Celebrate Women’s History Month with us and learn more about a few of our female founders! You can see our full portfolio here.

43North portfolio

HiOperator – Liz Tsai

HiOperator has scaled their team more than 10-fold since joining the 43North portfolio in 2018. While most teenagers were navigating the challenges of high school, HiOperator Founder & CEO Liz Tsai attended MIT. She later participated in YCombinator and Hearst Labs before applying to 43North and receiving $500,000 in investment.

Immersed Games – Lindsey Tropf

The number of women in STEM-related fields is increasing year-over-year, and Immersed Games’ video game Tyto Online is working to influence young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The game empowers middle school-aged students to solve real-world problems, learn about important topics including climate change, and discover career opportunities in these fields.

Magnusmode – Nadia Hamilton

Nadia Hamilton was inspired by her brother Troy to take the entrepreneurial plunge and help those with cognitive special needs. Magnusmode is a technology focused on helping individuals with autism and other cognitive disorders navigate everyday life with ease. They work with companies in the finance, transportation, retail, and healthcare industries, and just last year announced their first Buffalo-based partnership with Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Rally – Sihuen Song

Rally is bus rideshare and brings together groups of people to ride safely to sporting events, concerts, and public events around the country. The company went viral in 2017 when they bussed over 50,000 people in a single day to Women’s March rallies in Washington D.C. and other cities. Co-founder Sihuen Song participated in Yale’s Entrepreneurial Institute while getting her masters degree, and later joined the Techstars Mobility accelerator before coming one of the newest 43North portfolio companies this year.

Tags: 43North Winners, female founders, HiOperator, Magnusmode, women's history month

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