Q&A with 2015 43North Winner ACV Auctions CTO, Dan Magnuszewski
The rate of change is accelerating at a breakneck pace. As of Q3 2015, Facebook employed nearly 12,000 people and has a market cap approaching [gasp] $300 billion; ten years ago Facebook was being run out of a dorm room. Salesforce was founded 15 years ago and employs over 16,000 people, with a market cap in excess of $36 billion. I could go on to list more obvious tech companies even the least informed person would recognize – Uber, Tesla, Zynga, Twitter, Lyft, Instagram, WhatsApp – pointing out impressive job creation numbers and staggering valuations conjured in mere months and years, not decades or generations.
Five years ago in Buffalo the startup scene barely had a pulse. There were a few companies that had launched (Campus Labs and Liazon, notably, have gone onto very successful exits), but there were very few notable successful exits at that time (Synacor among them). With a rise in persistent, passionate community catalysts and successful serial entrepreneurs, the context for more frequent kinetic collisions was set in motion. Perhaps the largest manifestation of this evolving ecosystem is the 43North business plan competition, also known as the world’s largest business idea competition. The theory is that startups and high growth companies are fueling and increasingly driving economic prosperity.
The winner of the 2015 43North Competition was one of Buffalo’s very own, ACV Auctions. ACV Auctions is a live wholesale marketplace for dealer-only automobile auctions. Conducted via a smartphone application, ACV creates liquidity for wholesale inventory (trade-ins and aged automobiles) 24 hours a day. An intuitive 5 minute process of snapping pictures and drafting a vehicle description launches an auction to 100's of registered buyers.