Buffalo-headquartered ACV Auctions provides a mobile app and web platform for car dealers.

CEO George Chamoun says it allows dealers to quickly buy wholesale vehicles through live auctions.

"The company's mission is to provide trust and transparency for dealers in buying their used cars," Chamoun said.

The company on Wednesday introduced virtual lift, an app-based technology which allows it to take a high resolution photo of a vehicle's undercarriage simply by driving over a phone connected to the hardware.

"In history so far, dealers have been buying used cars without knowing and/or inspecting the undercarriage of the vehicle," Chamoun said.

He said the new technology is the result of the company's investment into its research and development arm. In four years the department already has 88 employees. In fact, Chamoun said ACV has 800 total employees across the country, is hiring 50 more each month, and 300 are located in Western New York.

"Buffalo has all the resources that we need to build just a tremendous business," he said.

In 2015, the company got its launch as the top prize winner of New York state's 43North startup competition. Along with $1 million, it received incubator space, mentorship and connections to investors.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul holds ACV Auctions up as an example of the competition's success.

"These people could work anywhere in the country and they are now calling Buffalo home," she said.

Despite 44 companies in 43North's portfolio, ACV accounts for more than half of the 500 regional jobs the state said it's produced over five years. Critics have pointed out some winning companies have failed to develop while others have moved after fulfilling their one-year commitment to locate 50 percent of their staff and the CEO in Buffalo.
"If you kind of think about venture capital, venture capital is you invest in 10 companies and one or two of them work out," Chamoun said. "You don't expect all of them to work out."

The competition said while some companies like ACV hit home runs, companies that get doubles and singles are important to the economy as well. Chamoun said even if just a few companies have major success, the return on the state's $5 million annual investment, is worthwhile.
"It's more than 300 jobs," he said. "It's the hotel rooms. It's the restaurants. We have visitors every single week coming in. It's the belief that this is a place you can build a business."