Buffalo Next: Hamburg aims to get into the startup action |

Buffalo Next

Hamburg aims to get a piece of the startup action

The Village of Hamburg is fostering entrepreneurship and innovation with a new business incubator program. 

Pitch Hamburg will support the creation of new businesses in the village by providing resources, support, mentorship and incubator space for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

The idea for Pitch Hamburg came together in 2018, but the organization has started to pick up steam more recently with a $200,000 grant from the Town of Hamburg. That funding has gone toward hiring the organization’s first executive director, establishing an incubator space and developing programming for entrepreneurs. 

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Pitch is an independent nonprofit entity that is not controlled by the village or town. 

“The whole point of Pitch is to add to the economic vibrancy of the village,” Executive Director Annamaria Masucci said. “We’re not looking to compete with the existing businesses, but complement those businesses and bring in newer ideas and newer businesses that really just tie the whole village together.”

Who is the executive director?

Executive Director Masucci is Pitch Hamburg’s first – and only – employee. 

She’s familiar with the village and what it takes to run a business. 

Annamaria Masucci, Executive Director at PITCH Hamburg

Annamaria Masucci, executive director of PITCH Hamburg, poses for a portrait in Hamburg, July 12, 2022. 

Libby March

Masucci grew up in Hamburg and is raising her sons there. She previously worked as a community liaison for the village, which helped her build relationships with businesses in the community.  

She also started her own business in Hamburg, Village Juice Works, in 2017. 

When Masucci was starting her healthy fruit and vegetable juicing business, she didn’t know where to begin, she recalled. She hopes she can the place to turn for help and guidance by entrepreneurs who are the same place she Masucci once was.

“For me, it is really important to be able to be that resource for people and to help them,” she said. “I can certainly empathize with how difficult it is to start a new business because I’ve done it, so I have that life experience.”

Masucci wants Pitch Hamburg to be a place where people can feel welcome, learn and collaborate. 

What is Pitch planning for the future?

Masucci is working on setting up Pitch Hamburg’s incubator space, located at 40 Main St. in the heart of the village. Once the space is ready, she will be able to start.

She also is planning the organization’s first innovation contest, where entrepreneurs can pitch their business ideas for a chance to win startup support. Masucci hopes to be able to offer monetary support to the businesses. 

Want to know more? Two stories to catch you up:

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Business training opportunity 

What: Cooperation Buffalo is now accepting applications for the fall 2022 cohort of its Cooperative Academy training program.

Tell me more: The Cooperative Academy is for teams of at least three people working together on a business concept who intend to open their cooperative within a year. 

A cooperative is a business owned and controlled by the workers, like BreadHive, a bakery and café on Connecticut Street in Buffalo.  

Participants will meet every Wednesday from Oct. 5 through Dec. 14 for classroom training in business development, finance, governance, democratic decision making and participatory management. 

Graduates of the course will receive up to $2,500 in seed capital and continued support from Cooperation Buffalo as they launch their business. 

To apply, visit cooperationbuffalo.org. Applications are due Aug. 15. 

For more information, call 716-541-0407 or email [email protected]

Why it matters: More than 100 people have graduated from the Cooperative Academy during its first three cohorts. 

Many of those people have gone on to launch successful cooperative businesses, including a teacher-owned childcare center, a worker-owned information technology company, a real estate investment cooperative, a farmworker-owned flower business, a tree care business and a worker-owned café.

“Our vision is to support a resilient and interconnected ecosystem of community-owned businesses that allow for neighborhood self-determination, worker dignity, and wealth building for the many and not just the few,” Cooperation Buffalo Executive Director Andrew Delmonte said. 


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3. Which WNY companies’ pollution poses biggest potential public health risk?: The Buffalo Niagara region improved when compared to other metropolitan regions in overall total pollution releases to air, water and land – moving from 44th most in the nation in 2015 to 163rd most out of 893 urban areas.

4. Dollar stores are booming: Do these retailers help or hurt communities?: The dollar store industry is one of the fastest growing in the country, often bringing a wide-ranging store to communities and neighborhoods where shopping options are limited. But not everyone is happy.

5. Buffalo Together grant recipients putting dollars behind ideas: The Buffalo Together fund’s mission is to address long-range community needs. But fund leaders also thought it was important to “get money out the door as quickly as possible” and support organizations working on the front lines since the May 14 massacre at the Tops Markets on Jefferson Avenue.

The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to [email protected] or reach startup and technology reporter Natalie Brophy at [email protected] 

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