Inbound Investment Drives Southern Tier’s Startup Success in 2017

Inbound Investment Drives Southern Tier’s Startup Success in 2017

Below, we are happy to feature a guest blog from our good friends at the Southern Tier Startup Alliance.

Hard though it is to believe, 2017 is swiftly drawing to a close. With December now here, we at the Southern Tier Startup Alliance (STSA) are beginning to take stock of our accomplishments in the year-to-date.

At STSA, our work centers on the support we provide to people starting and growing companies in the Southern Tier region of New York State through workshops, mentoring, and programming. We are proud to report that STSA has advised regional startups on 18 new financing deals so far this year. Those deals have amounted to $21.6 million raised, capital that will help fulfill our mission to increase the number of jobs in the region by diversifying the employment base and strengthening the economy.

Benefiting from the presence of several quality institutions of higher education, the Southern Tier continues to emerge as an area ripe for economic growth and capital investment. Twenty-eight groups have invested in the Southern Tier this year, including 17 who are first-time investors in the region.

“This year has seen increased enthusiasm by investors for the new startups emerging in our region,” said Brad Treat, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with STSA. “We have begun to see enquiries from outside investors who see us as a source of deal flow, which we welcome greatly.”

Below, we highlight just a few of the region’s many recent success stories.

Grainful, a producer of frozen entrées and meal kits made from whole grain steel cut oats, is one of the Southern Tier’s major winners this year. The firm has raised $3.6 million since the start of 2017, and was accepted into the competitive Chobani Food Incubator. STSA’s mentors worked closely with Jan Pajerski, the company’s president and co-founder, to provide general mentorship and specific advice on the process of company valuation.

Another success story was that of Farther Farms, a sustainable food processing company founded by Cornell University alumni Mike Annunziata and Vipul Saran. The firm has had a banner year, winning $25,000 in Pillsbury Institute’s Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition in March, and $50,000 in the Cornell Venture Challenge in April. The company also placed first in the advanced technology track of the New York State Business Plan Competition that same month, and re-branded to its current company name in September.

Farther Farms also received a $25,000 investment from Launch New York in October, clearing an in-depth due diligence process that should pave the way for additional investors to take a look at the company in the coming months.  STSA entrepreneurship mentors worked with Farther Farms to manage all aspects of the Launch NY application process, develop a broader fundraising strategy, and begin work on a key licensing deal.

Finally, STSA’s mentors helped the founders of Kingsley Quality Woodworking, Inc. a WBE certified company specializing in architectural millwork, custom wood components and lumber sales, to design a complex deal to acquire Edie & Trapper Millwork in neighboring Tioga County. Kingsley acquired the firm’s customer base, and specialized equipment to increase manufacturing capacity and continue expanding the products and services available for Southern Tier contractors & builders. This purchase prevents the dissolution of 30 years of business and manufacturing expertise as Kingsley adds it to the high skill custom work they are known for.

“Thanks to the STSA mentors, I had peace of mind in unknown territories entering into new relationships with lawyers, bankers and a myriad of fund managers,” said Chelsey Kingsley, founder and CEO. “The people who work with me aren’t dealing with just one client. I am part of an important and broad network of entrepreneurs. We are a very connected group, sharing our resources, networks and expertise; I would say that the receptivity and service I received reflected that.”

With 2018 now on the horizon, STSA looks forward to many more successes in the year to come!

Noah Schumer