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Sheridan Start-Up Challenge Announces Finalists

October 8, 2020

IMPACT 307, Sheridan’s business incubator, announced five finalists for the 2020 Sheridan Start-Up Challenge entrepreneur competition.

IMPACT 307, with business incubators in Casper, Laramie and Sheridan, is a business development program of the University of Wyoming. It is administered by UW’s Office of Research and Economic Development.

This year’s challenge attracted 51 applicants, a 30 percent increase in entrants over the 2019 challenge, and featured many intriguing business plans and ideas. According to Scot Rendall, IMPACT Sheridan director, the response to the challenge demonstrates greater interest in starting up new business ventures, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

“We were pleased with both the number and quality of applications,” Rendall says. “Our challenge continues to take on regional appeal, with applicants this year from Sheridan, Johnson, Campbell and Park counties.”

The following is a brief summary of each finalist, including the company name, the entrepreneur(s) and their innovative business idea:

-- GrillGate, founded by Tyler O’Daniel, is an after-market pickup truck tailgate with a built-in, collapsible propane gas grill. It is designed for avid tailgaters, campers and the truck accessory market.

-- Iter Arnum LLC, founded by Jared Koenig, has created a modular adventure rack system that attaches to the box of a pickup truck. The frame is designed for quick reconfiguration of the rack for many different uses, including hauling outdoor recreation and construction gear.

-- Papa Joe’s Produce, founded by Joe Wesnitzer and Adam Bunker, is a supplier of year-round, hydroponically grown leafy greens, seasonal produce and special recipe value-added creations targeted at consumers of locally produced food.

-- SSI/Virtual Sandtable, founded by Scott McDowell, has created a virtual reality-based software and hardware platform that provides an immersive training experience for commercial, municipal and education facility security applications.

-- Wolf’s Lighted Crystal Necklace, founded by Jason Hodges, is a full line of fantasy-themed, handcrafted crystal and epoxy jewelry, accessories and other merchandise targeting Renaissance fair and comic con enthusiasts.

A panel of community judges reviewed all initial entrants and selected 12 to make semifinalist pitches, where the judges had an opportunity to pose questions of the applicants. The finalists were selected Oct. 6.

“The quality of the applications continues to get stronger each year, and I see many of these entrepreneurs being successful in launching their ventures,” Rendall says. “I look forward to helping all applicants develop their business plans and provide the expertise necessary to help them thrive.”

Finalists will spend the next three weeks working with IMPACT Sheridan and honing their business plans. Each finalist will receive professional presentation support from the Only Co., a Sheridan-based marketing services firm. Finalist Pitch Night is scheduled Wednesday, Oct. 28. However, it will not be a public event this year due to COVID-19. Sheridan Media will livestream the presentations.

At Pitch Night, the top three judge-selected entrepreneur plans will each receive a $5,000 award and access to additional working capital from a $100,000 seed fund. All finalists will receive incubator space, ongoing counseling and access to some professional services to aid in their business.

The Sheridan Start-Up Challenge is made possible through the support of Sheridan County, the city of Sheridan, the Wyoming Business Council, the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation, First Interstate Bank, and Davis & Cannon.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

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