February 25, 2022
Black Male-Founded Startup Receives Launch NY’s Biggest First-Time Investment to Date
AireXpert Receives $125,000 in Seed Capital
Buffalo, N.Y. – Launch NY, the first and only venture development organization to provide capital access and pro bono mentoring to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of Upstate New York, announced a $125,000 investment—its largest-ever investment in a single startup—in AireXpert, a Black male-founded company based in Buffalo, N.Y.
AireXpert is a digital platform which facilitates workflow and communications for the global aircraft maintenance industry. The system, which includes mobile and web interfaces, enables airlines to control and manage unscheduled aircraft maintenance in a manner which significantly reduces potential for flight delays or cancellations.
Launch NY provided a total of $125,000 in seed funding to the company—$75,000 from its nonprofit Seed Fund, and $50,000 from its for-profit Limited Partner (LP) Fund—the largest funding to date for a first investment in a company.
“The record-setting size of this investment is confidence-boosting in many ways and for many reasons,” said Marnie LaVigne Ph.D., President and CEO of Launch NY. “It’s a vote of confidence for AireXpert—for their innovative idea, business plan and leadership team; it also demonstrates Launch NY’s confidence in Upstate New York’s growing startup ecosystem, and in our ability to support that growth; moreover, we hope it instills confidence among Black and underrepresented founders who aspire to launch their own startup companies here in Upstate New York, especially given our dedicated Founders Go Big program that provides exactly the kind of support to help diverse entrepreneurs build a high-growth enterprise.”
LaVigne said the timing of the investment is serendipitous, and while she’s “thrilled that a Black founder made Launch NY history during Black History Month,” she added that “we must and we will continue working to increase our entrepreneurial outreach, education, mentoring and investment efforts in underserved and underrepresented communities, leveraging Founders Go Big and our other robust mentorship and capital access programs.”
“It’s gratifying to receive such a significant investment, combined with all the other support we’ve received from Launch NY. This funding will help us accelerate our tech build-out dramatically and enable us to start building up our sales and marketing infrastructure as well,” said Andy Hakes, Founder and CEO of AireXpert, who has parlayed his industry experience to create a high-growth enterprise.
“The commercial aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) industry exceeded $70 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to continue growing rapidly when we emerge fully from the pandemic,” Hakes said. “AireXpert helps airlines integrate disparate service networks onto one software platform, lower downtime due to mechanical issues and enhance on-time arrivals and overall customer satisfaction.”
The Launch NY nonprofit Seed Fund, in operation since 2016, provides investment capital to 2-4 companies per month, totaling 78 to date that meet Launch NY’s criteria. It has been supported by grants and donations from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund, among dozens of individual and organizational funders, and has invested $4.4 million in Upstate NY startups to date. All returns come back to this nonprofit fund to support investments in future startups in what is known as an “evergreen cycle.”
Launch NY’s for-profit Limited Partner (LP) Fund, with over 70 limited partners, debuted in Q1 2019 and was designed to co-invest alongside Launch NY’s nonprofit Seed Fund. The LP Fund has thus far invested over $2.3 million in 52 Upstate NY startups.
These financing programs are offered through Launch NY’s #InvestLocal platform, which also supports deal-by-deal investments from accredited investors into Upstate startups through its no-cost to sign up, deal-by-deal Investor Network.
About Launch New York
The mission of Launch New York, Inc. (Launch NY), the only U.S. Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) directly providing venture funding to businesses in New York State, is to identify, support and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies that can transform the local economy and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture in the 27 counties comprising the western half of Upstate New York. Launch NY is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit venture development organization that promotes economic development through best practices, including high-quality pro bono business mentoring, while operating the most active seed fund in New York State that provides access to seed capital as part of an array of #InvestLocal financing programs designed to facilitate funding for investment-ready companies which have the promise to drive significant economic impact and jobs for our region.
Launch NY is headquartered in Buffalo and has co-locations with partner organizations in Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester and Syracuse. Since 2012, it has served over 1,324 companies, has more than thirty experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and its National Mentor Network of 2,000 industry, business and investment experts. Launch NY has mentored companies, including 27% women-led and 27% minority-led startups, which have created 4,547 jobs, attracted over $1 billion in co-investment and follow-on capital after joining Launch NY and generated over $159 million in annual revenues.
Launch NY’s #InvestLocal Financing Programs include a nonprofit fund, for-profit limited partner fund and Investor Network. The Investor Network includes opportunities for accredited investors to fund Launch NY portfolio companies of their choice for as little as $10,000 starting with a free sign up to join a community of over 190 members. Those funded by Launch NY’s nonprofit fund, started in 2016, include 77 portfolio companies comprising 31% women-led and 27% minority-led, have created 438 jobs, attracted over $85 million after receiving funding from Launch NY and generated over $35 million in annual revenues. Launch NY also leads the premier Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator, one of six designated clean energy incubators sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), as well as the Founders Go Big program, an innovative diversity and inclusion initiative introduced in 2020.