Daymond John, $5 million, and The Top Startup Talent at 43North and Bright Buffalo


$5 million was given away; venture capitalists heard pitches from promising startups; and the people’s shark, Daymond John, gave a rousing speech. All spotlighted during 43North and Bright Buffalo Niagara’s startup week, but the real focus was all about talent. We know, because we were front row for both events.

Daymond John, CEO of FUBU and Shark on the hit ABC series Shark Tank, said it himself, “I don’t invest in great ideas; I invest in great people.” John explained that investors not only want to see an exciting and innovative product that can make them money, but they also want to know that their investments are being led by people that they can believe in—people that have the potential to make their investments count.

daymond john

This was the case for ACV Auctions, an app-based used car auction service, who took home the top $1 million prize at the 43North competition.

ACV’s founders convinced a stage of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs including Gary Vaynerchuk, Founder and CEO of VaynerMedia; Michael Lazerow, Founder of Buddy Media; and Daniel Lewis, Founding Partner at Orange Capital, that their app-based auction service was not only the best, but that the people behind the wheel were as well.

ACV’s pitch impressed so much that Lazerow and Lewis, decided to independently invest in the company outside of the competition, and additionally offered to mentor them through the jungle of VC.

ACV has been running its 20-minute auctions for four months, and has sold 650 vehicles in that time period, taking in a fee of $330 per vehicle.

Any business should draw a distinct parallel from this event: a great idea or service can only take you so far—it can only bring you close to winning that prize, but what really drives success is talented people that make their services rise above the competitors that are knocking on the door.