Buffalo, N.Y., January 21, 2020 – 2019 was another banner year for Launch New York (Launch NY), Upstate New York’s first and only venture development organization and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to provide pro bono mentoring and equity capital access to high-growth startups across the 27 westernmost counties of the state. In addition to almost doubling the number of transactions it administered in 2018 through its nonprofit and Limited Partner (LP) Seed Funds, Launch NY also officially deployed over $1.1 million in capital, an increase of 52 percent from 2018.
“We’ve known our investments bring more than 12 times our funding to our portfolio companies, but they are pursuing 30 times our ‘small, but mighty’ dollars. The demand for capital is only increasing among our ongoing pipeline of over 300 companies that we are serving with our mentorship at any given time,” said Dr. Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY. “Now our new #Investlocal programs give literally hundreds of investors a chance to get engaged with our companies with funding, mentorship, and connections. The successful launch of our one-of-a-kind programming is real testament to the commitment and quality of our team, entrepreneurs, investors, and ecosystem partners. We’re looking forward to a really exciting 2020.”
Among the 2019 highlights:
•Launch NY’s world class Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, offering tailored support to startup companies across all industry sectors, served its 1,000th client company as of August 2019, which reached over 1,070 client companies by year end. This pro bono support works in tandem with Launch NY’s unique National Mentor Network of over 2,000 experts who augment the local mentorship with specialized guidance. Additionally, Launch NY connects its companies to the plethora of other programming available in the ecosystem to help each company reach the goal of becoming investment-ready for Launch NY and other investors’ funding. Launch NY client companies, of which 39 percent are women and/or minority-led, have attracted over $694 million in co-investment and follow-on capital, generated nearly $100 million in annual revenues, and created more than 3,725 jobs.
• Among the most active in the country, Launch NY’s nonprofit Seed Fund oversaw 24 transactions in 2019, and the for profit LP Fund, which launched in March, totaled 18 investments in just 10 months. This brings the grand total of transactions for 2019 up to 42, versus 22 in 2018. Launch NY’s 50 nonprofit seed fund portfolio companies, a subset of the more than 1,070 mentored companies, have created over 245 jobs with 47 percent of portfolio companies being women-led and/or minority-led, attracting over $42 million in co-investment and follow-on capital, and generating more than $6.5 million in annual revenues.
• #InvestLocal Programming, such as the LP fund mentioned above, also saw a successful introduction, with Launch NY in June debuting its online-based Investor Network, offering investors deal-by-deal investment opportunities for as little as $10,000. Over 100 accredited investors were recruited for the pilot phase and 12 companies and their due diligence were fielded on the platform, including the first company eligible for Opportunity Zone funding, 3 AM Innovations.
• Portfolio companies that are part of Launch NY’s Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator, one of only six in the state, saw substantial progress in 2019 business competitions. EagleHawk, a Buffalo-based drone technology company, was a finalist in the Genius NY competition and won $500,000; the 76West Clean Energy Competition awarded CleanFiber, a cellulose insulation manufacturer also located in Buffalo, $250,000 as a finalist; and the Luminate NY accelerator competition named SunDensity of Rochester as a finalist, awarding the photonic smart coating producer $100,000. ECO Incubator clients also announced large fundraising rounds including Viridi Parente who raised nearly $30 million in December, and CleanFiber who raised an additional $5 million this past year.
• Other Launch NY portfolio companies had impressive results when it came to competing: Rochester-based startups Ovitz and VPG Medical won the Luminate NY $1 million top prize and$500,000 second-place prize, respectively; Circuit Clinical, a clinical research company in Buffalo, won $500,000 as a 43 North finalist; and the inaugural Grow-NY competition named five Launch NY portfolio companies (including The Perfect Granola, which became one of the$250,000 winners) as finalists. The Perfect Granola also expanded operations with a new partnership with Foodlink in Rochester to produce the first New York State Grown & Certified ready-to-eat grain product, and grew to three full-time employees.
• Other organizations recognized Launch NY’s growth and influence, with The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation granting $4.5 million, a $300,000 award for the Investor Network from the Economic Development Association, $500,000 from JPMorgan Chase for the Capital Connect Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) collaboration, and an additional
$225,000 from the U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund for the third consecutive year.
• Launch NY and its leadership were honored with several high-profile accolades as well in 2019, such as being nominated for Startup Supporter of the Year from the Northeast Clean Energy Council. Launch NY President & CEO Dr. Marnie LaVigne was a finalist for both the ATHENA Leadership and Economic Development Super Star awards, and Launch NY COO Lindsay Karas Stencel won both the Upstate Capital Association’s Investor of the Year and Upstate Venture Connect’s Community Catalyst top honors.
• Other significant achievements included Launch NY unveiling its new website, hosting high-profile and inaugural events like the Invest Local Summit in February, the Angel Investing Program with Techstars and Buffalo Angels in May, and its first Limited Partner (LP) Summit in October, and adding two high-profile professionals to its Board of Directors: Mel Passarelli and Maggie Dorn.
“Our journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, and we’re nowhere near being done,” said LaVigne. “We are committed to making our region a thriving place to build a high-growth startup business with all the expertise, capital, and other resources needed to drive significant, inclusive job and wealth creation reflecting the new economy.”
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.