Buffalo’s Newest Entrepreneurs to Pitch Their Businesses for a Chance to Win Seed Funding

15 New Business Owners Will Showcase their Companies on December 5, 6, 7

BUFFALO NY– The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) will present its latest pitch competition for its IC Success Summer 2023 cohort on December 5, 6, and 7. The IC Success program provides new and early-stage entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to launch and grow their business—all at no cost.

The cohort members have almost completed the program’s intensive 10-week business accelerator program, received extensive mentoring from business experts, and are now ready to take the stage to make their business pitches to a panel of expert judges from an array of industries.

Competing for seed funding for up to 5 businesses are:

  •             Danielle Byrd, Founder, Long Life Yoga
  •             Tracey Taylor, Owner, The Blend, LLC
  •             Ashley Dolson, Founder, Melanin Skyn Co.
  •             Mohamed Yakub, Owner, Yakub’s Consulting, LLC
  •             Frank Handley, Founder, Handley Holding, LLC
  •             Thomas Preston Page, Owner, The Traphaus
  •             Rhonda Wells, Owner, Buffalo Plant Burger
  •             Elise Cominsky, Owner, Felise Design
  •             Stephanie Peete, Founder, Second Chapter Bookstore
  •             Mubarek Idris Said, Owner, iNRev Cycle
  •             Chanel Rowe, Owner, Caribbean Arts and Culture Foundation
  •             Tesha Parker, Founder, Rooted in Love, Inc.
  •             Lamiah Jabbar, Owner, LoveMeOnsie
  • Anisa Umugwanera, Owner, Welcovery
  • Jacqueline Cherry, Owner, Buffalo Dance and Movement Center

Companies that are part of an IC Success cohort also have additional opportunities to earn seed funding each quarter as their businesses are developed.

“We are so proud of how far this group of entrepreneurs has come over the past 10 weeks,” said Juweria Dahir, who has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners as BNMC’s Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “It has been a joy to share in their progress in the IC Success program and we welcome everyone to join us at the Innovation Center for the Competition and graduation ceremony.”

Winners will be announced at a special graduation ceremony on December 14. All are welcome to attend the pitch competition on December 5, 6, and 7. Those wishing to attend can register here. Anyone who would like to attend the graduation ceremony on the 14th can register here.

Twice each year, a cohort comprised of 15 talented Buffalo entrepreneurs begins the IC Success business accelerator program. This program provides classes on all aspects of running a business, including finance, law, accounting, and marketing. In addition, each participant is matched with three mentors who support entrepreneurs throughout the program, and beyond.

IC Success is focused primarily on underrepresented entrepreneurs, and the unique obstacles they face. For example, Black business owners who apply for funding were three times more likely to be rejected by banks than white business owners, according to a report from Goldman Sachs.

“We started this program because there are entrepreneurs all over Buffalo who still don’t feel welcome in the flourishing startup ecosystem here—especially people of color and women, who often face discrimination and other obstacles when building a business,” said Matt Enstice, President of BNMC. “By purposefully integrating networks—and caring for those connections on a long-term basis—we can help communities grow from within, driving the next wave of our region’s economic development.”

IC Success is the latest equity-focused program from BNMC, which has helped drive Buffalo’s economic growth and development for more than 20 years.


Adriana Viverette
Digital Marketing Manager

Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. 
Innovation Center at 640 Ellicott St. | Buffalo, NY 14203
C 716.348.4126 | aviverette@bnmc.org

 About Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus  

For more than twenty years, The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus organization (BNMC) has been a driving force in Buffalo’s economic renaissance. Throughout its management of the growth of Buffalo’s premier innovation district, the BNMC has foregrounded smart economic, social, and environmental development, prioritizing health & well-being, and sustainability. Today, the BNMC is focused on the next phase of Buffalo’s ongoing resurgence, cultivating inclusive innovation in partnership with our community, and launching the IC Success (Innovation Community Success) program to support aspiring entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to help them start or grow a business. Program graduates will form the heart of Buffalo’s growing Innovation Community comprised of businesses large and small in an array of disciplines leading the region’s next wave of economic development and growth.   www.bnmc.org

Virtual Networking Event Creates Cross-Border Connections

Network with your Cross-Border Colleagues Virtually!

While the safety measures of COVID-19 have reduced international travel, they have not stopped our potential for cross-border collaboration.

About this Event

While the safety measures of COVID-19 have reduced international travel, they have not stopped our potential for cross-border collaboration.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, McMaster University Innovation Park and Spark Niagara have come together to facilitate a virtual networking event for startups across the Buffalo, Niagara and Hamilton regions to interact, collaborate and seek opportunities for partnership.

By organizing the group into numerous breakout sessions entrepreneurs will gain a meaningful experience in learning from and collaborating with other startups.

WHEN: Weds., October 21st from 1:30 – 3:00 pm

WHERE: Virtually!

WHO: Startups in Buffalo, Niagara & Hamilton regions.

HOW: Register today for this free, virtual networking event!



Creating Pathways to High-Tech Employment

Creating Pathways to High-Tech Employment

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic caused unemployment rates to soar, a group of collaborators in Buffalo were working toward a hands-on, lab-oriented technology certificate program designed to get out-of-work individuals back to work.

Last fall, Mark Hoeber, Dean of Continuing Education at SUNY Erie, began pulling together key local partners to help him build the full stack web development boot camp he saw successfully run in other communities. He identified David Adkins, formerly the VP for Information Technology at the Buffalo News, currently an engineering manager at Facebook, as a partner to develop and lead the course. He also reached out to Sam Marrazzo, BNMC’s Chief Innovation Officer.

Sam provided curriculum support and also brought in Raj Suchak, founder of Grit Seed, which offered the use of its technology platform pro bono to help market the program and identify candidates likely to succeed. Grit Seed’s technology made it convenient for people to wp-contently via text. After a potential candidate expressed interest, they were automatically encouraged to complete the process and answer simple questions.

Cristina Lopez from Workforce Buffalo was instrumental in providing funding for tuition. Seventeen people are currently enrolled in this class, with 14 students’ tuition paid for by Workforce Buffalo as part of its efforts to help upskill unemployed or dislocated workers. Originally designed as an in-person class starting in April, the class launched on Zoom in June and runs through mid-August. Graduates will earn a Microsoft certificate. SUNY Erie is also developing a Google programs and a Facebook marketing course.

Other partners include TechBuffalo and InfoTech WNY, which are helping to connect the students to mentors during the program and employment opportunities after completion.

Learn more about the program.

M&T’s New Tech Startup Makes Business First

Congratulations to M&T Bank on its feature in Buffalo Business First for the establishment of new tech company Nota! Nota – a digital banking solution — functions like any other fast-growing startup in the Thomas R. Beecher Jr. Innovation Center. The only difference? It was created by one of the region’s largest companies. To read more about M&T’s new tech company, CLICK HERE!
(Pictured: Paul Garibian, who leads M&T’s new tech startup, Nota.)

IC Success Series Rewind

IC Success Series Rewind


The BNMC is proud to have launched our first IC Success series at the Innovation Center, a 6-week curriculum featuring two separate tracks on digital media marketing and financial literacy and credit building. These workshops were facilitated by all minority & women owned small businesses, and designed to inspire creativity, leadership and entrepreneurial thinking in an inclusive, welcoming environment. Stay tuned for brand new IC Success classes coming soon!

BNMC to Host Annual Last Minute Holiday Market on December 19

Join us for our annual Last Minute Holiday Market

on December 19th!


‘Tis the season to buy local! Stop by our annual holiday market to pick out unique gifts for your friends and family. Interested in tabling at this event? Vendors must register by December 16th at ICgiftmarket.eventbrite.com.


dig at the Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St., 1st floor


December 19th from 11:30am-1:30pm


All participating vendors are locally owned-small businesses. We will have lunch available for purchase from our Collision Cafe vendors, including Lime House, R&R BBQ and Green Eats Kitchen.




Your Innovation Center Presents: IC Success!

Your Innovation Center Presents: IC Success!

These NEW workshops are facilitated by minority & women owned small businesses, and designed to inspire creativity, leadership and entrepreneurial thinking in an inclusive, welcoming environment.

FREE childcare will be provided by ABC Learn & Play from 6:15-8:15pm for every session!

Registration is required via the links below.

Digital Media Marketing with Crews Control Media 

Tuesdays from 6:30-8pm  | October 15th-November 19th

Financial Literacy & Credit Building with Clarity Credit Repair

Thursdays from 6:30-8pm | October 17th-November 21st


Refreshments provided for attendees.

Plenty of on-street parking is available outside the Innovation Center, as well as in the parking lot across the street. We are also a short walk from the Allen/Medical Campus NFTA station and along several bus routes.

Buffalo’s Role in Bike Start-Up’s Uber Acquisition

Buffalo’s Role in Bike Start-Up’s Uber Acquisition

Congratulations to Jump Bikes! The BNMC is proud to be one of the local nonprofits that were early partners of the original Social Bikes, which is now joining Uber.

This week ride-hailing giant Uber announced its intention to purchase Jump Bikes, an electric bike start-up that has pioneered electric dockless bike sharing services in a deal that is rumored to be valued at between $100 and $200 million.

The BNMC, Shared Mobility Inc. (SMI), and other local partners were thrilled to hear the news since the nonprofits had worked with the organization in its very early days of developing the first public flexible bike sharing service.

The BNMC is proud to have partially funded the first city hub, as well as providing early support to SMI for a bikeshare business plan in 2011.  In 2012, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) funded SMI with a $150,000 project to pilot and test the Brooklyn start-up Social Bicycles (now called Jump Bikes). As is the case today, the BNMC was interested in supporting social innovators, particularly those that offered a new business model and benefits for communities.