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UW WTBC’s Sheridan Start-Up Challenge Hosts Public Pitch Day May 23

April 28, 2017

Five local entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges, with the top three teams receiving cash, legal counsel and a chance to apply for seed funding, during the Wyoming Technology Business Center’s (WTBC) Pitch Day for the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge Tuesday, May 23, at 6 p.m. at the WYO Theater in Sheridan. 

The top three teams will receive a $5,000 award, pro bono legal counsel from the firm of Davis and Cannon, and an opportunity to apply to a $50,000 seed fund for working capital. The WTBC is a business development program of the University of Wyoming.

Sponsored by the SEEDA Joint Powers Board, the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation, First Interstate Bank, and Davis and Cannon, the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge is designed to encourage and stimulate more entrepreneurial activity in the Sheridan area. Registration for the Start-Up Challenge kicked off Feb. 13. The WTBC had received 68 submittals across 14 industries when registration closed March 8.

“It was an incredible response from Sheridan,” says John Dick, Sheridan area director of the WTBC. “It was more than double what we expected to receive, and it really is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of this community.”

Following the registration deadline, WTBC staff members narrowed the submittals to 10 semifinalists, who were each interviewed by a local judging panel to determine five finalists that will pitch May 23. All of the finalists have been working closely with WTBC staff to develop business models and the final pitch. The five finalists are:

-- Ajayi Global Enterprises, Lekan Ajayi, a web-based platform that connects cancer patients with available drug trials.

-- K-Driven, Justin Koltiska and Garrett Kron, a patented oil-field tool that significantly improves efficiency and safety in the field.

-- Oatware, Anne Gunn and Mark Thoney, a portfolio of three software-as-service products focused on hyper-local markets.

-- Old Army Records, Kevin O'Dell and Jim Powers, an ancestry software focused on military history.

-- RS Water Drill, Rick Shelton and Doug Madison, a patented water drill technology for thawing frozen pipes.

Each finalist will give a 15-minute presentation, followed by questions from the judges. The panel includes Tim Barnes, co-founder of Black Tooth Brewing Company; Laura Lehan, founder of Peak Consulting and chief development officer at Sheridan Memorial Hospital; Jesus Rios, chief operating officer of Ptolemy Data Systems; Jerad Stack, co-founder of Breakthrough 307; Travis Todd, co-founder of FullContact; P.J. Treide, founder of Surf Wyoming and Bighorn Design; and Jon Benson, CEO of the WTBC.

Following the five pitches, the WTBC will host a reception at the WYO Theater, where the top three qualifying teams will be announced. 

“When local businesses launch and then are able to grow, our entire community is strengthened,” Dick says. “I encourage everyone to come down and support these entrepreneurs and maybe get inspired as well.”

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. The program has business incubators in Laramie, Casper and Sheridan that offer comprehensive business consulting as well as programs designed to stimulate new business activity.

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

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