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Governor Hochul Announces $1 Million Grand Prize Winner of 43North’s 7th Annual Startup Competition

Media Coverage

Top Seedz Wins $1 Million Investment in $5 Million Startup Competition

 Seven Additional Companies Each Receive Investments of $500,000

Mayor Byron Brown today announced the winners of the seventh annual $5 million 43North startup competition, including the grand prize winner of a $1 million investment and the seven companies that each won investments of $500,000. In addition to the financial investments, the winners will receive one year of free space in the Seneca One where 43North’s headquarters is located, guidance from experienced mentors, local connections to potential customers, access to 43North’s network investors and other business incentive programs. The winners were announced during an awards ceremony at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

 “Buffalo’s entrepreneurial community has felt the positive impact of 43North and now there are eight new innovative companies joining an already vibrant startup scene,” said Governor Hochul.  “We congratulate the extraordinary winners of this year’s competition and look forward to seeing them gain momentum while creating exciting new jobs in the region.”

The 2021 43North Finalists are:

BetterMynd | 📍 Buffalo, NY
Big Wheelbarrow |📍 Austin, TX
FLOX | 📍 London, England
Infiuss Health  |📍 San Jose, CA
NixCode | 📍 Kalamazoo, MI
Ognomy |📍Williamsville, NY
ShearShare | 📍 McKinney, TX
Top Seedz | 📍 Buffalo, NY
Verivend | 📍 Buffalo, NY
Zealot Interactive |📍Arlington, VA

The Winners of the 2021 43North Competition are:

Top Seedz, Buffalo, NY – $1,000,000 Winner

Top Seedz produces artisan crackers and roasted seeds packed with nutrition and flavor using the simplest ingredients that nature provides.


BetterMynd, Buffalo, NY – $500,000 Winner

BetterMynd is an online therapy platform that partners directly with universities to provide their students access to a diverse network of licensed mental health counselors from the privacy and convenience of their laptops and mobile devices.


Big Wheelbarrow |📍 Austin, TX – $500,000 Winner

Big Wheelbarrow is a software as a service platform that enables food distributors and grocers to manage supply chains in order to meet consumer demand for local food profitably, efficiently, and safely.


FLOX | 📍 London, England  – $500,000 Winner

FLOX’s machine vision technology enables welfare-first farming; allowing poultry farm owners to improve chicken health & wellbeing, while also operating more ethically, profitably & sustainably.


Infiuss Health  |📍 San Jose, CA – $500,000 Winner
Infiuss Health powers remote research/clinical trials with their Software as a service platform, connecting clinical researchers in the US and EU to patient participants in Africa.

ShearShare | 📍 McKinney, TX – $500,000 Winner
ShearShare is a B2B mobile platform helping Salon owners drive additional revenue through filling empty salon chairs on-demand, through their matching of salon/barbershop owners with vetted licensed beauty professionals.


Verivend | 📍 Buffalo, NY – $500,000 Winner
Verivend offers the quickest way available to pay and get paid, allowing businesses to transact with all customers and vendors and a digital wallet powering instant B2B and B2C payments.


Zealot Interactive |📍Arlington, VA – $500,000 Winner
The best way to learn guitar, Zealot’s app offers augmented reality video lessons for real-life musical instruments paired with state-of-the-art hardware.


 43North’s winners were selected by the following Finals Judges: 

  • Brian Brackeen, General Partner at Lightship Capital
  • Peter Boyce II, Founder and Managing Partner of Stellation Capital
  • Howard Draft, Executive Chairman at Draftfcb
  • Scott Omelianuk, Editor-in-Chief of Inc. Magazine
  • Jackie Reses, Chairman of the Economic Development Council at Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
  • Rudina Seseri, Founder and Managing Partner of Glasswing Ventures

43North Board Chair Eric Reich said, “Every year we are blown away by the hustle, talent and innovation demonstrated by the companies competing for a place in the 43North portfolio. We are excited to watch tonight’s winners make their mark in Buffalo as they grow their companies and take advantage of the rich resources offered by the city and our program.”

43North President Colleen Heidinger said, “The energy in Shea’s Performing Arts Center was palpable tonight as the Western New York community turned out to cheer on our incredible finalists. Buffalonians have witnessed firsthand the transformative economic impact achieved by bringing new talent and capital to our region, as evidenced by the support on display tonight. I can’t wait to watch the winning companies experience all that our burgeoning startup ecosystem has to offer.”

Over the past seven years, 43North has invested in a diverse portfolio of 51 companies, 31% of which have founders of color and 23% having female founders. Nearly half of those companies have maintained a material presence in the Queen City, creating over 800 local jobs. Among the ranks is tech unicorn ACV Auctions, which brought 43North to new heights as its first publicly traded portfolio company, after an IPO on March 24, 2021.

About 43North

43North is an accelerator program that hosts an annual startup competition, investing $5 million per year to attract and cultivate high-growth companies in Buffalo, NY. 43North portfolio companies 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 Governor Kathy Hochul, Empire State Development, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, and several other sponsors. For more information about 43North, visit


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