By Andrés Uribe, Expedition PR
Buffalo New York, the land of amazing chicken wings, a mediocre football team (no hard feelings, I’m from the Miami area..woo hoo ‘72 Dolphins), and a bubbling startup scene. That’s right, Buffalo has a startup scene that’s been quietly gaining momentum over the years. Here are three factors that are contributing to this up-and-coming tech hub:
The Buffalo Billion. To help Buffalo in reviving its economy, Governor Andrew Cuomo has committed a historic $1 billion in investments to the Buffalo economy. Known as the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, the governor introduced the plan earlier this year with a roadmap for six signature investable initiatives aimed at helping all areas of the economy. Most notably for the startup world is the Buffalo Breakthrough Business Challenge. This initiative will feature a “world-class business plan competition to catalyze the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.” With prizes such as incubator space, mentorship, VC intros, and funding, plan to see even more scruffy looking programmer types invading the local coffee shops once the competition kicks off.
Z80 rallies Buffalo’s startup proponents. Z80 is a tech incubator based in downtown Buffalo. Z80, opened in July of 2012, has many big time backers, including SCP Incubator LLC via a $4 million Innovate NY grant, Softbank Capital, Jordan Levy and Ron Schreiber (both partners at SoftBank Capital). Besides the money backers, Z80 also has several corporations invested in its success through either services offered or personnel. Most notable in this list include The Buffalo News (which is loaning out part of its office space to host the incubator), Buffalo Based Synacor – a Nasdaq traded tech, TV, and cloud company with a Market Cap of $76.74M, Campus Labs, PC Business Solutions, Creo451°, and Hover Networks. Or in other words, startups at Z80 Labs have a lot of friends in Buffalo.
Close to NYC but half the price. Manhattan is expensive. Rent is skyrocketing, as always, and a cheap beer will cost you $5…during happy hour. For the programmer considering a job in Manhattan with a starting salary of $62,500, the average starting salary for programmers in NYC according to Glassdoor.com, you’ll do alright. And when you see that the same job is going to pay around $50,000 in Buffalo, you might be thinking that is reasonable, considering NYC is more expensive after all. But when you notice that that actually lets you live like someone making $110,953 in Manhattan, according to CNN Money cost of living calculator, you might start to think twice about that offer in Buffalo. Coupled with the two previously mentioned points which will be drawing many VCs to Buffalo to discover new companies, you really aren’t missing out on much business wise. And if the ‘New York Nightlife’ is something you think you can’t live without, take the hour flight out here and check it out for a weekend..but trust me, it gets old after living her for a while.
After writing the first few paragraphs to this article, I came across this post by Chelsea Orcutt of Syracuse University (compare our opening paragraphs..eerie). Although we might be some of the few out there recognizing Buffalo for more than its famous chicken wing sauce and less than thrilling football team, the pieces are in place for Buffalo to take its spot amongst the great startup hubs of the US.