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Three Business Qualifiers of WTBC Casper Start-Up Challenge Announced

May 25, 2016
four men and a woman standing in front of a banner with the name of the competition on it
Winners of the Casper Start-Up Challenge are, from left, Bradley Erickson and Eric Lewis, both from Bison Kings; Jon Benson, CEO of the Laramie WTBC; Ily Nunn, of Nunn Utility Locating LLC; and Brian Deurloo, of DIEM LLC. (Casper Area WTBC Photo)

Three Casper area entrepreneurs will continue their dreams of creating a thriving business courtesy of the WTBC Casper Start-Up Challenge.

Five companies participated in the WTBC Casper Start-Up Challenge Pitch Day May 20, at the Casper Area Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC). The challenge was sponsored by the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, WIDC Frontier CDC and the WTBC.

“The following three companies were selected as qualifiers. Each qualifier will receive $5,000 and will be eligible to apply to a $50,000 seed fund,” says Joseph Bennick, director of the Casper Area WTBC. “A panel of judges listened to presentations from five finalists and selected these three as qualifiers. All five finalists did a great job and have tremendous potential.”

In addition, the WTBC will cover the client’s rent for the first year in the Casper incubator.

The three qualifiers are:

-- Brian Deurloo, of DIEM LLC, leads a company that creates innovative products and services to solve complex environmental problems. The team at DIEM focuses on commonly littered items and nonpoint source pollution such as cigarette butts, water bottles, plastic sacks, pesticides, herbicides and hydrocarbons. DIEM is a startup company that seeks commercial solutions to help communities around the globe clean up and mitigate environmental pollution.

“Brian is an innovative entrepreneur. He decided to start this business in February and, in preparation for Pitch Day, he wrote and submitted several provisional patents while developing a prototype,” Bennick says. “The amount of work that Brian did in the last few months left everyone asking the question, ‘Does he sleep?’”

-- Brad Erickson and Eric Lewis head Bison Kings, a small indie game development team that is focused on making games for Windows and Mac platforms. The games explore a wide variety of genres and emphasize rich gameplay with adventurous stories.

“Bradley Erickson and Eric Lewis are incredibly knowledgeable about the video game industry,” Bennick says. “They have demonstrated a vast understanding of their customers and have made a lot of progress to develop a game that will be ready to go to market this year. The earnings potential for this team is outstanding.”

-- Ily and Eric Nunn are founders of Nunn Utility Locating, a startup, private utility-locating company. The firm will provide private utility locating services for Wyoming and the surrounding area. Ground penetrating radar and standard locating equipment will be used to accurately locate underground utilities and minimize risk.

“Ily Nunn has done a lot of great work getting her business launched. She completed her first sale the week prior to Pitch Day,” Bennick says. “Her business solves a problem that exists for other businesses, and the market potential is exciting. Ily is well positioned to scale her business in the next couple of years.”

Two other companies that were in the running, but not chosen to receive funding are:

-- Airplane Clean of Wyoming, a full-service detailing company specializing in aircrafts. Detailing and cleaning of all aircraft will include the interior and exterior. This detailing service will use safe and reliable methods to keep aircraft and equipment clean, and in optimal working condition.

-- Hackett Systems, a low-voltage special-systems contractor that provides building owners a service solution to monitor, maintain and repair fire, surveillance, security and access control systems. Owner Justin Hackett is National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies 4 certified in fire alarm systems, and has more than 13 years of experience in commercial fire and security contracting.

Administered by the University of Wyoming Office of Research and Economic Development, the WTBC is a not-for-profit business incubator that provides entrepreneurs with the expertise, networks and tools necessary for success. The WTBC’s main office is on the UW campus. Besides Casper, another WTBC incubator is located in Sheridan.

The incubators provide access to office space, shared services and business management advice to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses faster and stronger than they would otherwise. In addition to the incubator program, the WTBC hosts entrepreneurial networking events in each market known as “e2e Wyoming.” The program consists of a 45-minute networking block followed by a 45-minute presentation from an entrepreneur or business expert.

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