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UW Student Entrepreneurs Tie for First in $10K Competition


March 30, 2011 — For the first time, two projects tied for first place in the annual University of Wyoming College of Business $10K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Presenting their winning business ideas to judges Friday, March 25, were Christoph Geisler, molecular biology student from Heerlen, The Netherlands, and the team of Nate Storey, agronomy graduate student from Cheyenne, and Paul Bennick, a history student from Gillette.

The winning teams each received $10,000 to start up businesses with an opportunity for a $2,500 progress bonus.

The Wyoming $10K Entrepreneurship Competition encourages UW students to act on their talent, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow's businesses. A network of students, mentors, investors, and potential partners, as well as mixers and workshops featuring tips and guidance from successful professionals, give teams the boost needed to make entrepreneurial dreams a profitable reality. 

Both graduate and undergraduates students from all UW colleges are encouraged to enter the competition. Up to 10 teams are selected from the business concept submission in the fall semester through 30-minute team interviews conducted by a panel of local business experts. Typically, no more than five teams are selected to move onto the final competition.

From the problems identified to the solutions presented by the students, all projects have the ability to become profitable businesses, says judge Dick Bratton, manager of Jona, Inc.,who was one of the judges for the latest competition. 

"I for one am impressed with the plans and especially the final presentations," says another judge, Garrett W. Lindemann, of Lindemann Research Consulting, Inc. "All of the participates had novel concepts, listened to and responded to input from the Wyoming Technology Business Center as well as the judges. All did an excellent job of presenting the final product."

Geisler's business proposal is for his company, GlycoBac. The company offers custom glyco-engineered insect cells for the production of biotherapeutics -- specific sugar structures critical for the therapeutic efficacy of biotherapeutics such as cancer-fighting antibodies.

Storey and Bennick developed Bright Agrotech, LLC that manufactures and sells vertical hydroponic towers for greenhouse vegetable production. It allows producers to dramatically increase production as a function of floor space.

Business administration student Shantel Seppala, Evanston, was the third-place winner, receiving a $2,500 award for SeppCo Insurance Solutions. The business is a professional service that assists large construction companies in obtaining and maintaining insurance documentation from subcontractors as a risk reduction strategy.

Two other student projects each earned $500.

The team of C.J. Stewarts, mathematics/science, Laramie, and Bennett Simpson, business administration, Pekin, Ill., developed their company Ghost Owl Myconautical Industries that will provide the Front Range with tasty, healthy, visually appealing gourmet mushrooms, using recycled biomass from the community.

Sarah Clark, non-degree graduate student from Laramie, started SEC Lifestyle Mobile Training Fitness -- a new alternative to personal training providing the convenience to train, motivate and encourage in a personal way traditional methods cannot provide.

Two teams also received additional prizes -- the most creative plan went to Ghost Owl Myconautical Industries and best presentation to GlycoBac.

In addition to the cash prizes, four of the five teams were offered a one-year, rent-free opportunity to build their business in the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), a technology-related business incubator that assists Wyoming entrepreneurs.

"I thought this group of potential companies was unique not only because of the quality of the business concepts and their potential for becoming significant Wyoming companies, but also, because they came from a number of different colleges and departments at UW," says Jon Benson, WTBC director.

Funding the initial competitions was a gift from alumnus Carl Lee. Future competitions will be sponsored by First Interstate BancSystem Foundation; Burton Entrepreneurial Education Fund; Charles A. Micale Foundation; John P. Ellbogen Foundation; Wyoming Technology Business Center and the UW College of Business.

For a complete listing of future $10K activities, visit the UW Web site at www.uwyo.edu/10k.


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