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WTBC’s Sheridan Start-Up Challenge Offers $50K Seed Fund to Stimulate New Companies

February 13, 2017

The Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC), a business development program of the University of Wyoming, has launched a new entrepreneurship competition in the Sheridan area. 

Sponsored by the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority (SEEDA) Joint Powers Board, the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation, First Interstate Bank, and Davis & Cannon, the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge is designed for anybody in Sheridan who has recently started a business or is interested in launching one.

“This is a great opportunity for someone who has been thinking about starting a business or has a technology they would like to commercialize,” says John Dick, Sheridan area director of the WTBC. “If you’ve been daydreaming about this or wondering the best way to start, I encourage you to contact me and enter the competition.”

Registration for the competition begins today (Feb. 13), and there is no cost to enter. Three businesses will be awarded $5,000 prizes and then have access to a $50,000 seed fund for working capital. 

“In our experience working with early-stage Wyoming companies, oftentimes a relatively small amount of capital becomes a barrier to getting started,” Dick says. “We want to remove as many barriers as possible for Wyoming entrepreneurs, and help them get started and grow.”

The WTBC has long been involved with entrepreneurship competitions at the university. Last year, the organization hosted the Fisher Innovation Challenge, which offered a $125,000 seed fund for new technology and innovative companies. Dakota Roberson, a UW student and one of the finalists in the Fisher Innovation Challenge, credits the process to helping him launch his business, called Aktzin Systems. 

“I had an idea, but I never had a reason to pursue it,” Roberson says. “The WTBC’s challenge gave me the reason, the guidance and the means.”

During open registration, the WTBC will host an informational mixer for anybody interested in the competition. The mixer is scheduled Wednesday, Feb. 22, 6 p.m., at the Wyo Theater, 42 Main St., in Sheridan. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with WTBC staff and Wyoming entrepreneurs who participated in last year’s Casper Start-Up Challenge.

Registration for the competition will close March 8. WTBC staff will then narrow all submittals to 10 semifinalists. A local judging panel will interview the semifinalists and determine the top five finalists to move on in the competition. Finalists will work closely with WTBC staff to develop business models and a final pitch. 

During the final competition at the Wyo Theater May 23, the local judging panel will choose the three finalists to be awarded $5,000 each, a free year in WTBC’s business incubator program, pro bono legal counsel from Davis & Cannon, and access to a $50,000 seed fund for working capital.

“I am thrilled that SEEDA has elected to participate as a funding partner in the WTBC’s Sheridan Start-Up Challenge,” says Jesus Rios, a SEEDA board member and member of the Sheridan City Council. “SEEDA’s core focus is economic development, and I can’t imagine a better use of SEEDA’s resources than to help inspire entrepreneurs to take the next step with an idea, invention or business venture that has been lying in wait.”

For more information on the Sheridan Start-up Challenge or the WTBC, call Dick at (307) 675-1939 or email him at

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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