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Published November 13, 2018
Three businesses were named winners at Sheridan’s Start-Up Challenge Nov. 8.
The Sheridan Area Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) received 40 applications for this year’s Start-Up Challenge. The WTBC is administered by the University of Wyoming Office of Research and Economic Development. It is a not-for-profit business incubator system that provides startup and early-stage companies with the expertise, networks and tools necessary for the development of successful businesses.
"Pitch Night was the conclusion of a process that started in August with the opening of the Start-Up Challenge application period,” says Scot Rendall, director of the Sheridan Area WTBC. “Forty applications were received. Ten semifinalists gave brief overviews of their business ideas at the end of September and, out of that group, five finalists were selected. The event was well-attended and, given the number of applicants and the quality of the business ideas, it's clear that Sheridan's entrepreneurial culture is thriving."
Five finalists pitched their business ideas before a judging panel and the community at the WYO Theater in Sheridan. The three winners were announced at a reception following the presentations. These are:
-- Spark Payments, created by Spencer Kuzara, is a payment processing company designed to provide a frictionless way for businesses to accept payments in digital currency.
-- Connect Speech Therapy, created by Chelsea Paulus, is an innovative in-home speech therapy practice serving individuals with speech impairments, reading and writing difficulties, memory challenges and other speech therapy needs.
-- ThermMaker, created by Chad Reckard, is a large, automated fluid heater for use in oil and gas development.
Each of the winners will receive $5,000 and pro bono legal advice from Davis and Cannon, a law firm in Sheridan. Each winning business also will be eligible to apply for additional funding through a $50,000 seed fund established for the event.
The other two finalists who presented were Aaron Baker, creator of My-Town, a mobile application that will help small businesses reach their local communities; and Jamie Diamond, creator of Angle PR, a public relations-as-a-service company that works with startup companies to get their stories in the press.
"Each of the five finalists will be offered space and ongoing counseling as part of the Sheridan incubator program, and we'd hope that each will establish their business in Sheridan over the next few months,” Rendall says. “Growing business startups organically is an integral part of our area's economic development strategy."