BUFFALO, NY – An investment of $3 million over the next two years will support Launch NY’s nonprofit seed fund and other #InvestLocal seed funding products, mentorship programs and organizational capacity .
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is providing the $3 million to benefit the initiatives.
Launch NY describes the Seed Fund as New York State’s “most active” seed fund and “one of the most active in the country.”
Buffalo-based Launch NY says it is the “first and only” venture capital development organization in upstate New York to provide access to capital and pro bono mentorship to businesses startups with high growth potential in the 27 westernmost counties of the state. It has partner locations in Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse and Rochester, according to its website.
Based in Detroit, Michigan, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation targets efforts and projects in Wilson’s home and adopted areas of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The foundation is named after the 54-year-old founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills. Wilson died in 2014, and the foundation bearing his name began operations a year later, according to his website.
“With continued support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation beginning in 2016, we have grown to meet our community’s demand for mentorship and capital to help entrepreneurs turn their new business ideas into reality. Together, we are contributing to new economy jobs in our region while simultaneously creating the most active seed fund in New York State and one of the most active in the country, investing in two to four companies each months,” Marnie LaVigne, President and CEO of Launch NY, said in a statement. “With support from the Wilson Foundation, entrepreneurs can now start their businesses here in upstate New York, where before they had to leave the area or let their big ideas die on the vine.”
This is the third grant awarded to Launch NY by the Wilson Foundation, following its grants of $2.5 million in 2016 and $4.5 million in 2019, for a total investment of $10 million over eight years.
“This new award will be key to expanding our team, which delivers unique diversity, equity and inclusion programs and creates even more access to capital through our growing lineup of #InvestLocal funding programs, which seems fitting, since the Foundation has truly done everything possible from our first award in 2016,” LaVigne said. “Launch NY is committed to ensuring that we serve high-growth startups with such a diverse team and motivated than the founders and their companies.”
“Launch NY continues to play a key and impactful role in the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “This additional funding will ensure continued business advisory services are provided to high-growth entrepreneurs and help bring the region closer to inclusive economic prosperity.
Investments made by Launch NY’s Seed Fund since its launch in 2016 totaled $4.3 million as of December 31, 2021. These investments have enabled its portfolio companies to raise an additional $85.2 million – “nearly 20 times more – in follow-on funding from outside investors. Follow-on capital raised by his portfolio companies came from angel investors, venture capitalists and other institutional investors.
To date, Launch NY’s #InvestLocal funding programs have funded 77 startups, the organization said. These companies created 438 jobs, attracted $85.2 million in co-investment and follow-on capital, and generated more than $22.3 million in revenue.
Forty-three percent of Launch NY’s portfolio companies are women-led and/or minority-led businesses, he noted.