Annual $5 Million Startup Competition


43North, an annual $5 million startup competition, was launched in 2014 as part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo Billion Initiative. They invest in startups from around the world, who then relocate a portion of their company to Buffalo.

We first started working with 43North in September of 2015.

The Challenge

43North faced a few challenges, as their existing CRM wasn't optimal:

  1. They needed a place to house all of their applicant and sponsor data.
  2. Their existing application had to be connected to and deeply integrated with a CRM.
  3. All communications with people and by extension, companies, needed to be housed in one central location.
  4. They needed to document all processes and steps so no one employee became a linchpin or irreplaceable.

We had just over 1 month to migrate data from the old system to the new system and have a working MVP (Minimal Viable Product). The solution needed to be powerful and flexible, understanding that processes will evolve over time.


Software implemented and integrated:

  • G Suite - Email/Calendar/Storage
  • Copper (ProsperWorks) - Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Help Scout - External Documentation/Live Chat/Shared Inbox
  • Reply - Sales Email Automation
  • Airtable - Employee Database Management
  • Coda - Shared Process Documentation
  • Slack - Communication
  • MyGlue - Password Management/Internal SOP Documentation

We took a multi-step approach to solving the challenges:

  1. In order to fully understand what needed to be done and what 43North expected of us, we worked with key employees to go over their existing processes/practices and discuss efficiencies, pain-points, and any critical facets. This allowed us to prioritize the challenges and and work through potential solutions.
  2. We defined the key data points 43North required and worked back from that to ensure the MVP contained them.
  3. We designed our plan to build an MVP by the agreed upon deadline. While building it out, we supplied weekly updates to the 43North staff and discussed any relevant feedback when necessary. We developed a shared document to house important processes, internal discussions, and status updates.
  4. We built a custom reporting feature for the Sponsorship Department so they could view data and insights in a way the Director of Development was most comfortable with.
  5. To ensure user adoption, (a critical aspect of major software integration) we worked closely with an individual from 43North, Brian, who acted as our primary point of contact and customer champion. He ensured the system was being optimally utilized by enforcing best practices and working closely with staff members.

What Their Team is Saying

Alex and his team were tasked with building a fairly custom and extensive solution that integrated seamlessly with our application process. They set us up on all the right software to streamline processes and save us an immense amount of time. We're able to focus our energy and time on doing what we do best while the system takes care of the rest.
Brian Straka of 43North
Brian Straka
Director of Portfolio Recruitment & Selection

With the proper CRM (ProsperWorks) and software solutions in place, we were able to help automate many aspects of the applicant recruitment, onboarding, and tracking process. In addition, we created pipelines and established processes for sourcing and retaining sponsors (as well as other unforeseen use-cases, such as application judging).

We launched prior to the deadline with all of the key data migrated from the old CRM, and MVP requirements fulfilled. From there we finished building out the system (ProsperWorks, Reply, Help Scout, Slack, etc.) and migrated remaining data. Implementing the necessary solutions to fully migrate 43North off the old systems.

We have been working with them on recurring basis since the official launch to discuss lessons learned, any issues, and potential product/process enhancements.