April 27, 2020

Launch NY’s 2020 Q1 Investments Totaled $620,000 from its Nonprofit Seed Fund and For-Profit LP Fund in 11 Innovative Companies

Buffalo, N.Y., April 27, 2020 –Launch New York (Launch NY), Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization to provide pro bono mentoring and the most active seed fund in New York State to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state, reported its Q1 investments for 2020, providing an economic boost when our community needs it most. Compared to when it deployed $155,000 in its first full quarter investing from its nonprofit seed fund and for-profit LP Fund in Q2 2019, Launch NY has ramped up to invest four times more capital in Q1 2020.

 

The LaunchNY Seed Fund LLC funded first time investments in five new companies and follow-on funding in six current portfolio companies. Designed to provide $25,000 to $100,000 in investment capital to companies who meet Launch NY’s criteria, the Seed Fund has operated since 2016, supported by funding from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund and has invested over $2.8 million in Upstate NY startups to date. Fueled by grants and donations, 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, debuted in April 2019 and is designed to co-invest alongside Launch NY’s nonprofit Seed Fund, ultimately doubling the capital available for Launch NY client companies. These financing programs are offered through Launch NY’s #InvestLocal platform, which also supports deal-by-deal investments from accredited investors into these portfolio companies through its Investor Network, also offering Qualified Opportunity Funds with special tax incentives for investments in eligible businesses in the designated low income Opportunity Zones.

 

Launch NY’s first quarter investments heavily focused on follow-on funding and women-owned businesses to grow its nonprofit seed fund portfolio to 55 companies and LP Fund to 27 companies including:

 

Agapé is a relationship wellness app, headquartered in Rochester, that prompts meaningful conversation and self-reflection through personalized daily questions. Agapé’s beta cohort of 250 users reported the app had become a habit in less than three days, 93% saying their participation has had a positive effect on their relationship, particularly well-timed for our recent days filled with a lot of togetherness at home.

 

CaHill, a Buffalo-based company, has created a training system, named aQuiRe©, which provides a daily log of mobile-accessible material composed of dynamic and engaging videos, diagrams and quiz materials. This system facilitates essential skills/safety training adaptation, including those critical during the COVID-19 crisis, while providing peace of mind for employers and risk managers striving for optimal safety standards and employee performance. Not only does the aQuiRe system help employers meet safety standards, it can also be used as a tool to train potential candidates for trades jobs.

 

Ecolectro is an Ithaca-based specialty chemicals company that has an exclusive license from Cornell Univeristy for a family of Anion Exchange Materials (AEM) toward their mission of using chemistry to de-carbonize industry, energy production, and storage and transportation sectors.

 

Gian Corporation is a Rochester-based company that is transforming the grocery shopping experience by giving consumers tools to identify the right foods at the point of purchase through HealthCart, a software platform and app that helps consumers make better food choices based on their individual health needs, medications, and more.

 

Gclip Row, a Buffalo-based company funding from the nonprofit fund only, has created the patented Quick Release Rowing Shoe System, which is a cleat assembly and shoe system designed exclusively for rowers, using the latest field research. With this revolutionary system, feet are splayed, reducing stress on joints during full stroke and improving performance.

 

GRASPIE, a Buffalo-based business, is a next generation, mobile-first training and engagement platform for the new connected workforce that allows employers to onboard, train and engage employees faster and more economically leveraging dynamic content, augmented reality, and machine learning.

 

Iterate Labs (OrthoFit), located in Ithaca, is a biomotion insights company that creates a feedback loop between the body and ideal performance by marrying technology and biomechanics to collect data that turns into insight for optimized training, injury prevention, and commercial and scientific discovery.

 

Memory Fox is a Buffalo-based company that provides marketing and communications managers at non-profits with the first self-serve SaaS platform to turn their compelling impact stories into a revenue generator. Using their simple system, an integrated private mobile application and their suite of additional enabling products, marketing managers can leverage the timeless power of storytelling to drive business results that will benefit their directors, board members, and donor development teams.

 

Ru’s Pierogi, located in Buffalo, produces a modern, premium-ingredient version of the region’s traditional favorite now as the perfect product for the frozen food retail market. Delicious, craveable, easy to prepare, easy to pair, and a blank canvas you can fill with anything to produce high quality dough filled with creative new flavor fusions for a time-tested frozen meal.

 

VPG Medical, a Rochester-based company, has developed an innovative, proprietary platform technology leveraging the cameras embedded in smart devices to monitor the cardiac activities of their user. During the COVID-19 crisis they are offering a free virtual at home assessment for individuals to monitor their well-being. Their low cost technology comes in the form of a downloadable app and it operates across platforms to provide seamless, effortless, continuous, all the time, everywhere access.

 

Walkabout Workplace, also in Buffalo, offers a digital workplace or digital office for people who work remotely. COVID-19 has meant all of her staff are “heads down completely” as they respond to the demand of companies instituting remote work situations.

“Despite the challenges we’re all facing with the coronavirus crisis, we’re seeing more activity than ever among our highly innovative, resilient entrepreneurs. We are happy to be able to support these companies, especially those with underrepresented founders located in low income communities, not only with first time investment capital but the crucial follow-on to accelerate the efforts of our portfolio companies who are making progress. Our combination of pro bono mentorship, portfolio management, and our multiple funding sources through our #investlocal programs is proving to be crucial during these uncertain times.”

Looking ahead, LaVigne said the regional business community will have to adjust to an economy that has to be more nimble in addressing changing conditions, “I’m cautiously optimistic because I’m already seeing new investors step up who want to support solutions to the COVID-19 crisis being presented by our startups. Entrepreneurs by nature are used to thinking on their feet, quickly adjusting to current circumstances to offer products and services that respond to market needs, and always doing more with less. Those are exactly the kind of innovators I want to back.”

For more information about Launch NY, its programs and other entrepreneurial opportunities, visit its newly-redesigned website at www.launchny.org, and follow Launch NY on its Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

 

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