High-tech dairy device claims top prize at 43North

Oct 6, 2017

The winners in the annual 43North business plan competition range from electronically testing milk to devices treating patients with kidney failure to a software platform for high-end barbers. The millions in awards were handed out as scrutiny increases on the competition which has struggled to identify startups capable of keeping jobs in Buffalo over the long term.

Winners in the 43North business competition celebrated after Thursday night's awards ceremony.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO

The winner of the top one-million dollar prize is SomaDetect which uses high-tech optical sensors to screen milk for impurities.

"Farming is an incredibly high-tech business, dairy farming especially," said SomaDetect CEO and Co-Founder Bethany Deshpande. The device, she says, revolves around high-tech research done by her father into optical sensors.

"In the last few years, we've come to robotic milkers and there's a lot of on-farm technology and ours is just one of many technologies that help improve farms and optimize what they are doing."

The runner-up was Squire, a platform that allows lets customers to book and pay for haircuts in participating shops.

"Most of our barbershops are higher end. We do it more so by revenues the barbershop makes," explained co-founder Dave Salvant.

"We typically focus on barbershops that do $150,000 a year in sales to about $1.5 million. It's very agnostic what type of race the barbershop is."

Another prize went to Burner Fitness,  which lets people use video programs to work with their workout centers.

"The great thing about Buffalo is, we've hired three people since we've been here in Buffalo," said CEO Oke Okaro

"The great thing about Buffalo is that you've got all these universities around. We have all of these talented young graduates and we're not competing with Facebook and Instagram and all of these other companies. So, we're able to find great talent."

Okaro says the company is now moving into hiring for sales and marketing. The company has been here for two-years, working out of the Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.