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UW’s Casper Start-Up Challenge Kicks Off Second Year of Stimulating New Companies

January 20, 2017
four men and a woman posing on stairs against a building
Winners of the first-ever Casper Start-Up Challenge are (from left) Bradley Erickson, Bison Kings; Joe Bennick, former Casper Area WTBC director; Eric Lewis, Bison Kings; Ily Nunn, NU Locating; and Brian Deurloo, Frog Creek Partners. (WTBC Photo)

The Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) -- a business development program of the University of Wyoming -- will continue to build upon the successes of its Casper Start-Up Challenge with a second year of the $50,000 seed fund.

A public kickoff event will coincide with an e2e Wyoming meeting Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at the WTBC’s Casper Area Incubator, located at 2435 King Blvd.

“We’re thrilled with the results of our 2016 challenge,” says Jon Benson, chief executive officer of the WTBC. “The community buy-in was phenomenal last year. With more than 30 applications submitted, it is clear that Casper has the ideas and the motivation to diversify the local economy if given the chance.”

Like the previous year’s challenge, the 2017 competition qualifiers will have a $50,000 seed fund to help early-stage entrepreneurial companies launch.

“In our experience assisting startups in Wyoming, often times the barriers entrepreneurs have to cross are a small amount of money to get them going,” Benson says. “Most of the time, this is between $20,000 and $25,000.”

In 2017, the seed fund is made possible through the support of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation and the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance.

Ily Nunn, one of three qualifiers in 2016 and a panelist at the Jan. 24 e2e Wyoming event, credits her attendance at e2e Wyoming for learning about the Casper Start-Up Challenge.

“Having gone to the mixers and finding out what this would look like, I prepared my basic idea and met with the WTBC staff,” she says. “Really, we just discussed my vision for the business and what I needed to do to improve that vision and make it happen.”

Nunn, who is founder and CEO of private utility locating company, NU Locating, credits the incubator staff with giving her the confidence to take the first steps.

“It was really helpful to have that feedback,” Nunn says.

Other panelists at the kickoff event are the two other 2016 Casper Start-Up Challenge qualifiers: Brian Deurloo, CEO of Frog Creek Partners; and Eric Lewis and Bradley Erickson, of Bison Kings. RSVPs are appreciated and can be made at

Additional informational mixers for the Casper Start-Up Challenge will take place Feb. 8 and 21, both at 5:30 p.m., also at the WTBC Casper Area Incubator. These events will be ahead of the March 1 registration deadline.

For more information on the Casper Start-Up Challenge, call John Glassburn at (307) 315-6404 or email him at

E2e is an educational networking program with chapters in Laramie, Casper, Gillette and Sheridan. It is designed to improve the climate for the startup and growth of entrepreneurial companies. Each e2e chapter meets bimonthly for 45 minutes of networking, followed by a 45-minute program. The programs feature successful entrepreneurs telling their stories, panel discussion on relevant topics and advice from experts in specific businesses.

Administered by the UW 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.

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