Buffalo offers significant challenges for those looking to found and scale a technology, including a lack of access to capital and difficulty in recruiting top talent. But the region also offers opportunities, Steve Case, co-founder of AOL Inc., said today as his Rise of the Rest bus tour swooped through the city.
Capital goes much further in Buffalo than more expensive cities, talent is much more loyal once it becomes entrenched in the region and promising young companies offer good deals for investors, as opposed to the hypercompetitive venture capital deals in stronger ecosystems, he said.
Overall, it’s obvious that Buffalo has made progress in establishing an environment for technology companies to thrive, and it must keep in mind that noticable change can decades.
“It’s been 15 years in the making to get the tech ecosystem here, and if it seems like a lot of time, it might be another 15 more before it pays dividends,” Case said. “Put your foot on the accelerator and do it faster.”
The Rise of the Rest tours began in 2014 and, so far, it has highlighted 15 cities across the U.S. Case now runs Revolution, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm, and is a frequent commentator on cable news about innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S.
Case started the day with a VIP breakfast at the Hotel @ the Lafayette and tours of City Dining Cards, the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center, Empire Genomics and Bak USA. He’ll finish the day with a VIP lunch at the Anchor Bar, a visit to Larkinville, a tour of SolarCity, a Consumers Craft Cruiser bike tour from Harborcenter to Canalside; and tours of Canalside and the Buffalo River.
Tonight, there will be a $100,000 pitch competition between eight local startups and a fireside chat with Case at Buffalo RiverWorks, followed by a happy hour celebration.