John P. Ellbogen Entrepreneurship Competition

2012 Competition

The Winners

1st Place: PlanktOMICS Algae Bioservices


Levi Lowder (center) and Stephen K. Herbert of PlanktOMICS, with team mentor John Dick (right)

2nd Place: Vertikle Enterprises


Walter Wilson and Sharlee Mahoney of Vertikle Enterprises, with team mentor Jeff Lowe (center)

3rd Place: 7200 Ft Productions


Emily Robinson and Daniel Adams of 7200 Ft Productions

Best Presentation: Hot Power Yoga

Most Creative Business Plan: 7200 Ft Productions

Student Choice Award: PlanktOMICS


The Teams

7200 Ft. Productions

7200 Ft. Productions is a professional service provider, offering online video marketing services to business clients. Online video viewership has increased significantly in the past few years and has a significant impact on sales for business websites. The target customer for 7200 Ft. Productions is small to medium sized businesses that can benefit the most from adding video to existing marketing strategies. These ideal customers will be accessed through relationships with web developers and public relations specialists. 7200 Ft. Productions offers full-service video productions, managing the entire process from preproduction to postproduction, including script writing, filming, editing, and uploading the video. Videos are made with client input to generate value co-creation, ensure consistent integrated marketing communications messages, and achieve individual goals.

Team Members

Emily Robinson is senior at the University of Wyoming pursuing a B.S. in Marketing with minors in Psychology and Sustainable Business Practices. Emily was first introduced to filmmaking while working as a production assistant for Robinson Media Services, a business-to-consumer company based out of Loveland, CO, that filmed events, such as weddings and recitals. Emily is the Founder and President of the Best of the West Film Club, a University Recognized Student Organization that produces original short films.

Daniel Adams is also a senior at the University of Wyoming, pursuing a B.S. in Management with minors in Entrepreneurship and Finance. He has extensive and varied work experience in small and large business, non-profits, and university programs. Daniel provides administrative and general business support to the venture, managing cash flows and other back office activities. Also, Daniel has an exposure to film through active participation in the Best of the West Film Club.


Greek Me

GreekMe is an online event management software systems that will help Greek organization chapters to easily organize events by simplify the event planning processes, thereby increasing event visibility and attendance, reducing costs, and saving time.

Team Members

Zeb Fross, B.S. Computer Science with a Minor in Business, Lost Cabin, WY

Odion Oisamoje, B.S. Computer Science with a Minor in Business, Laramie, WY.


Hot Power Yoga

Hot Power Yoga (HPY) offers a fitness based form of yoga, in a high temperature studio. HPY is the answer to the brand new yogi (yoga enthusiast), or the yogi in search of something new. HPY unites rigorous exercise with a mental workout. The differentiation of adding the heat sets HPY apart from the competition. Furthermore, the studio is set apart because of our focus on strength and the consistently good workout people can expect due to high quality instructors. There is vast potential in the Laramie community for people to start practicing yoga and make it a part of their lifestyle. We will strive to show customers the value of investing in themselves by utilizing our studio.

Team Members

Mallory Wortham graduated in 2008 from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Finance and minor in Accounting, and again in 2009 with a Masters in Business Administration. Cheyenne Wortham is currently a UW student in the College of Business studying Marketing and Economics. His expected graduation date is May 2012


MudSlide Tech

MudSlideTech, specializes in the production of "slide gloves" for longboarders.  These are basically leather gloves with hard, plastic "pucks" velcroed to the underside of the palm and fingers.  These gloves not only protect a longboard rider's hands from injury, but more importantly, they allow the rider to stop themselves quickly and safely, even at high speeds.  Slide gloves are absolutely essential for the sport of longboarding, and using them greatly increases the rider's safety.

Team Members

Jeff Watters is currently earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming.



PlanktOMICS© seeks to be an innovative leader in providing biotechnological services and products for an emerging algal biomass industry. We currently have the expertise, facilities and desire to provide state-of-the-art biotechnological services to companies and labs involved in algal biomass production, research and development. These services include advanced phenotype analysis and screening services, custom algal vector design and construction (algal genetic engineering services), algal transformation, and gene expression analysis.

Team Members

Team leader and head bioengineer:

Levi G Lowder ( - Algal genetic engineer and molecular biologist (PhD candidate Molecular Biology)


Stephen K. Herbert ( - Algal Phenotyping specialist and senior advisor (PhD)

Jacob L. Miller ( - Laboratory service and business specialist (Analytical chemist with six years of experience managing service laboratories)

Staff consultant:

Min-Hyung Ryu ( - Genetic engineering and molecular biology consultant (PhD candidate Molecular Biology)


Vertikle Enterprises

Currently in the world today, there is an estimated 110 million people at risk of blood clotting which leads to stroke, and heart attacks.  Many people are affected by the effects of blood disease and even more so by the side effects of drugs that treat blood disease.  These drugs are known as anticoagulation medication.  Vertikleë Enterprises LLC (VE) has developed a project that will investigate a novel separation technique to purify specific proteins based on a highly selective characteristic functional group.  The proposed procedure is a simple, yet innovative, process that does not utilize hazardous metallic materials, but instead uses alternative compounds that are not generally associated with the separation of proteins. The proposed technique will have a profound effect on the future pharmaceutical industry, setting a new standard for human safety.  The technique is a safe, effective, and an inexpensive method to separate proteins in drugs and nutraceuticals.  An anticoagulant, Hirudin is a great candidate for this procedure due to a highly selective functional group that can easily be targeted and retained.  As a test focus of our separation technique we use natural Hirudin which is a great anti-coagulating drug with virtually no side effects.  Hirudin has great potential as a nutraceutical in the United States market and may replace many drugs that have plagued the thrombosis market with side effects for far too long.

Team Members

Walter Wilson is in his fourth year of studying at the University of Wyoming and has found himself studying in the Physics and Astronomy department as a physics student.  He currently spends much of his time studying, volunteering and in UW AFROTC.  Walter serves on the Wyoming Board of Directors for the Congressional Award as a youth member and is active in the UW Relay For Life.  He is very excited about the opportunities to build a company, his work with the Navigators on campus and his desire to serve his country.  Ultimate Walter wants to see a company built that will provide opportunities to explore the frontiers of science and see the results benefit society and communities.  He is very excited for the 30K as it could prove a vital step in the development of this foundational company.

Sharlee Mahoney is a senior studying Chemical Engineering at UW.  She currently works in a laboratory that participates in research related to nanotechnology.   Sharlee is actively involved in many organizations on campus and is the head coach of Laramie Swim Club.  She is very excited for the 30K competition because it is exciting to actually take research and apply it to a product that will help people.  It is exciting to explore a product that has minimally been developed in the USA and will make an impact in the market.

Qihang Sun is a Ph.D candidate in the Chemical Engineering program at the University of Wyoming.  Her research focuses on synthesizing and preparing polymeric nanocarriers for bio-delivery in cancer therapy.  She has investigated different properties of various nanomedicines via in vitro and in vivo experiments.  She is excited to graduate soon from the program and is looking forward to taking on a more detailed role in the 30K project.  She will be responsible for many of the technical details of the separation process on the hirudin project.

Zhuoyan Sun recently received his M.S. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Wyoming.  Zhuoyan is now pursuing a Ph.D in environmental separation techniques that will be focused on research in the area of Environmental and Natural resources.  Zhuoyan brings an exciting element to our team with his experience from China dealing with natural medicines and the desire to pursue "green" technologies.  Zhuoyan is excited to see our project reach full potential within the United States and is very motivated to see that done. 

Dr. Douglas Wilson

Dr. Doug Wilson is a resident of Cheyenne, Wyoming where he is a local business owner, entrepreneur, clinical practitioner and a jack of all trades.  If it is possible, Dr. Wilson looks for a way to be involved and loves to see what might become reality.  He holds a DPT degree and is the director of the PTA program at LCCC.  In Dr. Wilson's spare time he has excitedly jumped on board to try out a new venue of business, Research and Development.  He is excited to be a part of a new company that has a community and applied centered focus!

Brendan Bryant is a recent graduate of the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in Political Science.  He recently returned from a 7 month study abroad in Kazakhstan and traveled through much of Asia and Europe.  Brendan now works at Trent Law firm, does immense amounts of volunteer work through the Navigators and has recently begun working for Vertikleë Enterprises as an Administrative Member specializing in grant writing.  Brendan has recently become excited about the world of international business and plans to pursue his education in that direction. 

Dr. David Thayer (Team Advisor and Consultant) is a Physics Professor at the University of Wyoming specializing in upper division and graduate level physics.  Dr. Thayer has a Ph.D. in plasma physics from MIT upon which he conducted his postdoctoral at the University of Texas.  After a staff position at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, he began working at SAIC directly for CEO, Dr. J. Robert Beyster.  Dr. Thayer has extensive experience in research and building business plans into multi-million dollar projects.  He is excited at how promising the novel separation technology has proven in the lab, even in the early stages.

The Competition

The 2011-12 Competition started with 23 business concepts submitted. Of these 23 teams, twelve were selected as semi-finalists, which were then narrowed down to six finalists and one alternate. The six finalists presented their business plans on March 30, 2012. All the teams presented well and had strong business plans.


We were proud to host a class of students from Natrona County High School. The students attended the competition and participated in their own round of judging, awarding the first ever Student Choice Award.


We had a great group of judges this year, who gave the teams invaluable feedback and encouragement.


Finally, our mentors worked tirelessly over the months leading up to the competition. They walked our student teams through every step of the process of developing their business plans and preparing for their presentations. All of our mentors come from the Wyoming Technology Business Center. The WTBC offers one year of free rent to one of the winning teams, and provides great support to the 30K Competition in multiple ways.