So you want to start a business...

Sep 17, 2018

Businesses can take years to start, but dozens of local people spent the weekend learning how to take their first steps at the University at Buffalo's Hayes Hall.


Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

This was the 8th annual Buffalo Startup Weekend, a mix of education for budding entrepreneurs and planning the businesses the different groups want to start and making a pitch for that business.

With strong help from 43North, the goal is to put potential companies on a path to be local job creators and economic generators. Nate Benson, director of media and public relations at 43North, said an array of people attended the weekend for a variety of different businesses.

"It's a hodge-podge of  everybody," Benson said. "It's got designers, developers, coders, marketing people, musicians, artists, people who are just curious about how their particular skills can be implemented into a startup. They're here having fun and it's been a whirlwind weekend."

Benson said these startup weekends offer mentoring to start businesses right here and hire people.

"That's what great about the mentors coming in, whether they be lawyers or professional development people or blockchain experts. These mentors coming in and kind of guiding them, asking them questions: Hey, have you thought about this? Or, hey maybe this might not be the best route from a legal startup. You don't know what you don't know when it comes to a startup."

President Alex Gress said UB is important in this process, even if not everyone is connected with the university.
 

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"Very, very significant. We're all stakeholders in building THE entrepreneurial ecosystem here," Gress said. "And so events like this that help bring new forms of collision, new forms of collaboration together create ideas, create excitement. That's what this is all about. When you think about some of the companies that have come through 43North, they themselves have come through startup weekends."

One of the key elements of the weekend is advice on law, business and consulting as it relates to starting a business. It is also a chance for those who see an opening in the marketplace to pitch their semi-formed idea. The winners get everything from banners to hang at investor events to time with lawyer, accountants and other mentor entrepreneurs.

The winning proposal company was TILT, which will specialize in matching people who like something. Dan Gigante led the group and said the public will participate.

"We need people to kind of participate in it and we think that they will do that, based on almost maybe a pride thing to like, 'I like Public Espresso,'" Gigante said. "So if I went to this place in Toronto,  like they're not really like that or maybe they're just spot on. So maybe the community will police that."

Krista Marcucci was there to pitch her company, UNCODED, a training academy for entrepreneurs who need help with language and social skills.

"Just generally speaking there's a cultural element, too. Even just like we deliver criticism, email demeanor, written communications and what it's doing is not just hindering our ability to communicate but really assimilate with our teams as well. So, that among the things we will actually coach in the Academy."

While Marcucci went to Canisius College, she has been out in the corporate world in New York City and Washington before returning here for the academy startup. Her team's proposal won third place.

Dan Abbotoy wanted to help people start up podcasts, at Castyourself.

"When you look at trying to learn how to podcast today, you have to go through a lot of technical knowledge. So you have the microphone, you have the equipment, yYou have to make sure it's all compatible and that it's going to work when you get it," Abbotoy said. "Then, after that, you have to go through the whole, entire editing process yourself. And so for a lot of people, that can be real overwhelming, real time-consuming and something that really prohibits them from getting into casting."

Some companies that started during the prior seven startup weekends are now active businesses.