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Venture forum provides startups investment opportunities

A venture forum held in Buffalo on Tuesday, gave dozens of local startup businesses an opportunity to link directly with potential investors.

The Bright Buffalo Niagara venture forum offered 35 high-tech start-up companies a chance to pitch their innovative ideas to entrepreneurs, capital investors, industry leaders and elected officials in an effort to gain capital. Twenty of the companies had 10 minutes to give their presentations, while 15 others had one minute.

CEO of Silicon Valley venture firm T2 Venture Capital and author of “The Rainforest”, Victor Hwang, was the keynote speaker at the event. He says the process in which businesses pitched their ideas is similar to the reality show ‘Shark Tank.’ Hwang said his advice for growing the economy upstate New York is to invest in a lot of different ideas.

“What ends up becoming the next great thing, who knows? What the great thing is to realize is that it’s unpredictable, but all you can do is support and help. We call it growing weeds. If you can help the weeds grow, then the forest becomes very successful,” said Hwang.

The event welcomed a range of business ideas in the fields of medicine, science, and nanotechnology. Founder of Worldwide App Inc. Crystal Callahan pitched her smartphone app at the forum. Her app allows users to vote for their favorite short films, linking Hollywood productions directly to audiences.

“Bright has done everything that it’s set out to do and that’s really not easy in this space. They really set up clear goals and objectives to be a matchmaker for the investor and inventor community,” said Callahan.

Callahan says the turnout shows that Buffalo is ready to invest in innovative ideas. Co-founder of GiveGab Aaron Godert, presented his company's social networking website at the event. The site helps connect volunteers to nearby work opportunities.

“Start-ups and entrepreneurship are really the life blood of America. America is very entrepreneurial and groups like this are very important to growing that economy. You have a lot of older established industries, but you constantly need innovation and you need additional companies to be growing ideas that employs people gives jobs. So, these things are absolutely critical as ways for exposing companies to potential investors,” said Godert.

Godert says the forum was also an opportunity to get their name out into the community. In the past, Bright Buffalo Niagara participants have gone on to raise more than $23 million in funding.

Twenty of the companies that presented will automatically move on to present their ideas at the 2014 Launch NY international business competition. They will have a chance to win $5 million in prizes.

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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