Buffalo, N.Y. – Thanks to Launch NY’s Investor Network, which represents over 100 individuals from the Western half of New York State and beyond who believe enough in the region’s startup scene to financially back its entrepreneurs, companies like Buffalo’s 3AM Innovations, EagleHawk and most recently Circuit Clinical, are finding the investment capital to thrive.
In fact, the Investor Network, the only digital investor community dedicated to supporting Upstate NY startups and early-stage companies, recently contributed $275,000 to Circuit’s Series B funding round, which represents the program’s largest investment to date since closing its first deal in 2020.
“We strive to help our current 68 portfolio companies and the new ones we add each month gain visibility among as many investors as possible so they can build their company right here,” said Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY. “Our largest raise to date on behalf of Circuit Clinical highlights the power of our Investor Network to make it easy and convenient for those who want to support local companies to be part of something really big. All kinds of investors with different interests and motives for choosing deals are finding our Investor Network satisfies their desire to #InvestLocal, especially now when these innovative startups are driving economic recovery from the pandemic.”
This latest Investor Network milestone investment contributed to the $500,000 in total from Launch NY’s #InvestLocal Financing Programs, including its nonprofit Seed Fund and for-profit LP Funds as part of the recently announced $7.5 million Series B funding round for Circuit Clinical that made headlines earlier this year.
One of the many benefits of the Investor Network is Launch NY vetting the deals, sharing its due diligence documentation, providing deal formation, ongoing mentorship, and portfolio management to ensure a smooth and risk-managed process. With a $10,000 minimum and access to highly sensitive information, the investors in Launch NY’s Investor Network, including the 10 individuals involved in the Circuit Clinical deal, represent both new and experienced investors alike who each have their own criteria to decide if an investment is worthy. These can vary from person to person, although there were a few emerging themes when discussing what prompted them to support Circuit.
“Circuit Clinical was an extraordinary investment opportunity,” said Holly Hubert, Founder and CEO at GlobalSecurityIQ who is relatively new to investing in local startups. “Led by an impressive leadership team, it is an incredible intersection of surging medical research while bringing care to patients that otherwise may have not been possible.”
Sam Messina agreed that Circuit’s leadership played a key part in his decision to invest. “I became extremely impressed with not only the company’s growth prospects, but also in the quality of its leadership team,” he said. “Investing in people first, especially Western New Yorkers, is my first criteria for making any investment decision and what ultimately drew me to this opportunity.”
A unique business model that answers a specific, untapped need also topped investors’ lists, along with an easy investment process.
“Circuit Clinical has a unique business model linking patients in need with pharmaceutical companies who might be able to help,” said John F. Somers, another Launch NY investor who contributed to the Circuit raise. “I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to support startups that include strong leadership, a credible business model and an impactful financial commitment from a leading customer.”
“When I look for investment opportunities, I try to assess the leadership team first and then look at the problem the company is trying to solve,” said Hubert. “The more interesting the mission, as in Circuit Clinical, the more excited I am to be involved,” said Hubert, adding, “Launch NY does an amazing job of not only vetting opportunities along these lines, but also providing capable mentors to help foster success.”
Launch NY’s Investor Network, which announced its first investments in 2020 starting with Eagle Hawk, followed by 3AM Innovations and others, is designed to work in tandem with its nonprofit Seed Fund to provide accredited investors the ability to fund individual companies from the organization’s pipeline of startups through desktop or mobile devices. Through a digital platform, Launch NY can also help match investors with companies that align to their interests, such as industry sector and geographic location. With five figure raises in 2020 from a few investors in each deal, the Circuit Clinical investment has more than doubled the funding brought to Launch NY portfolio companies through the Investor Network, with nearly 20% of members having participated.
To date, over 100 investors have signed on to the program, with a goal of 300 by the end of the year, according to LaVigne.
Another member who has participated in multiple investments through the Investor Network is Siva Kakuturi, CEO of CK Consulting Services and CIO of SVC Capital, who described his career building and selling his company along his path to becoming an investor in Upstate NY startups in a recent interview, “It takes the proverbial ‘many hands,’ and I want to do my share.”
“Finally, those with a passion for helping startups in our region have the ideal online community. Our Investor Network is the perfect #InvestLocal program for a first time or experienced investor who’s looking to make a large impact but doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on the process,” said LaVigne. “Our team does the due diligence, presents the options, handles the deal documents, transaction, and post-investment processes every step of the way. All the investor has to do is decide if the opportunity meets his or her specific criteria.”
Launch NY’s Investor Network is open to anyone who qualifies, regardless of location, and there’s currently no cost to sign up or minimum investment obligation. Go to https://launchny.org/investors/investor-network/ to get started.
About Launch New York
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 Invest Local 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 1,177 companies, has more than two dozen experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and its National Mentor Network of 2,000 industry, business and investment experts. Launch NY mentored companies, including 27% women-led and 26% minority-led startups, that have created 4,094 jobs, attracted over $813 million in co-investment and follow-on capital, and generated over $115 million in annual revenues. Those funded by Launch NY starting in 2016, including 68 portfolio companies comprised of 32% women-led and 26% minority-led, have created 294 jobs, attracted over $66 million, and generated over $9 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.