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UW Students to Compete in $30K Entrepreneurship Competition

April 3, 2015

Five University of Wyoming student teams will present a wide range of business plans Friday, April 17, during the John P. Ellbogen $30K Entrepreneurship Competition at the UW College of Business.

The competition begins at 9 a.m. in Room 123. Awards will be presented at 1:45 p.m.

The competition encourages students to act on their talents, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow's leading businesses. The $30K competition awards cash prizes to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submit their business plans for new ventures that show significant business potential. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners.

UW undergraduates and graduate students are encouraged to enter the competition. Teams that combine members from various academic disciplines also are encouraged to compete. The John P. Ellbogen $30K Entrepreneurship Competition was known as the UW $10K Competition until 2011.

For more information about the competition, visit the website at, or contact Carlinda Asay in the UW College of Business Department of Management and Marketing at (307) 766-3728 or email

The finalists, listed by businesses, team leaders and times of student presentations, are:

9:10 a.m. -- Wyoming Skills Academy, Aaron Tyser, a senior psychology major from Buffalo.

Tyser was a walk-on basketball player for the Cowboys. When he was a high school athlete aspiring to make it to the next level, he sought out, but was unable to find, access to specialized skills coaching. Tyser discovered that Wyoming athletes must often travel long distances and sometimes to other states to receive the skill instruction they need.

He plans to offer specialized skills training to Wyoming basketball players in grades K-12 in their own communities by working with local coaches and school administrators by scheduling multiple clinics that target different age groups.

9:50 a.m. -- Spigot, Laurel Winkenwerder, an energy MBA program student from Seattle, Wash.

Spigot is a news aggregation and analysis platform designed specifically for use in the financial industry. Before coming to UW, Winkenwerder worked for Legg Mason Capital Management in the market intelligence and corporate strategy department. She is working closely with her industry contacts to design the features of Spigot in a way that mirrors specific behavior and use in news aggregation and analysis. Winkenwerder also has worked in marine energy and hydropower technology development.

10:30 a.m. -- Catering Calculator, Ken McConnel, a business administration major from Laramie.

With 27 years of experience in the restaurant and catering industries, McConnel identified the need for a better means for restaurants/hotels/caterers to record and analyze food left over from catered events. His business proposal will capture event-related details that influence how much of what kinds of food people eat. By reducing the volume of leftover food, either by reducing portion size or fewer portions, caterers can increase their profit margins.

McConnel has contracted with an experienced software developer to create a cloud-based software and back-end database that will capture the catering variables. These data will then be analyzed and used to help caterers manage food ordering for future events.

11:10 a.m. -- VeeBee Farm, Carrie Ver Berg, a senior accounting major from Moorcroft.

Ver Berg and her father are building a business that produces and processes raw local honey. Demand for raw honey is high because of the various health benefits it offers and because most small honey producers can’t keep up with demand. VeeBee Farms is adding hives to produce more honey. Ver Berg is looking for ways to expand the business through retail sales, honey processing services for small honey producers, and shipping VeeBee Farm’s bees to California in the winter for almond pollination.

11:50 a.m. -- Cruxx Climbing Company, Tabitha Briscoe, a sophomore accounting major from Casper.

As a bouldering enthusiast (rock climbing up to 10 feet without equipment), Briscoe says the activity requires the use of crash pads as safety gear to prevent injuries from falls. Crash pad designs currently are big and bulky (4 by 4 feet, 5 inches thick), and are transported on the climber’s back to the climb site, making them inconvenient and cumbersome.

Cruxx Climbing is developing a crash pad using a unique material that will be thin, light and transported and carried easily. Besides its current offering of clothing, stickers and chalk bags that are made using recycled materials, Cruxx Climbing also is developing a range of technical products that will make climbing safer and more convenient.

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