Launch NY Introduces New Role to Lead Its Growing Investor Network, Attracts Out-of-State Talent to Fill Position 

Buffalo, N.Y., January 30, 2023 – Launch NY, the first and only nonprofit Venture Development Organization and venture-funding Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to provide pro bono mentoring and seed capital access to early-stage startups in the 27 westernmost counties of New York State, has hired Katie Hestor as Manager of its Investor Network, the first and only online angel investor community featuring exclusively Upstate NY startups. The Investor Network has grown to nearly 260 accredited investor members and closed on $1.475 million in investments via 16 transactions in 13 companies since it started in 2020.

Hestor recently earned a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Alvernia University, while also working as the Assistant Incubator Manager and Graduate Assistant for Startup Ventures and Investments at Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship in Reading, PA. She previously served as Capital Consultant at the 18th Wonder Improvement Association, and as a Scholar of Marketing at The Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing and entrepreneurship. Hestor’s experience includes direct assistance to startups across a broad range of industry sectors, as well as support of angel investors seeking to connect with investment opportunities in new ventures.

“Innovative and disruptive startup companies have the power to change our communities—and to change the world,” said Hestor. “I’m thrilled to become part of the Launch NY team, and part of the exciting entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s growing across Upstate New York. I’ll put my experience and passion to work connecting investors with founders in meaningful, productive, and rewarding ways.”

Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY, said, “We are so fortunate to attract a talented professional like Katie bringing incredible experience and connections from outside our region to create the pipeline of the future leaders of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re thrilled that Katie chose to pursue her career and her passion at Launch NY and Upstate New York.”

The Investor Network is designed to work in tandem with Launch NY’s nonprofit Seed Fund and for profit Limited Partner Fund. With a sustained pace of 2-4 investments per month, Launch NY is the most active seed fund in New York State and one of the most active in the country. Launch NY also earned a new ranking in 2022 among the top five nonprofit seed funds in the country based on track record, executive leadership, market share, innovation, and ESG rating as published by SeedRound.

Through its digital platform, Launch NY can help match investors with companies that align to their interests, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), industry sector and geographic location, so they can mentor as well as fund startups of their choosing.

Investor Network members can invest as little as $10,000 all the way up to six-figures in any or all of its deals. Launch NY is continuing to waive its membership fee until it reaches its target of 300 total investors for its beta phase in the coming months. Accredited investors can find out more about Launch NY’s Investor Network and take advantage of its no cost, no-obligation-to-invest sign up on its website at



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 1,442 companies, has more than 30 experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and its National Mentor Network of 2,000 industry, business, and investment experts. Launch NY has mentored companies, including 28% women-led and 29% minority-led startups, which have created 4,916 jobs, attracted nearly $1.25 billion in co-investment and follow-on capital after joining Launch NY and generated $228 million in annual revenues.

Launch NY’s #InvestLocal Financing Programs include a nonprofit fund, for-profit limited partner fund and Investor Network. To date, Launch NY has invested over $10 million in 86 startup companies that have created 498 jobs, attracted over $157 million in follow-on funding, and generated $60 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.

For more information about Launch NY, its programs, and other entrepreneurial opportunities, visit, and follow Launch NY on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.



Tag: startup investment, entrepreneur support, venture capital, early-stage funding, business incubator, angel investors, seed funding, innovation ecosystem, economic development, Upstate New York, Launch NY, investor network, out-of-state talent, job opportunities, business growth, innovation hub, entrepreneurial resources, tech startups, innovation economy, economic revitalization.