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Published May 20, 2021
Six finalists are set to pitch their businesses to a virtual audience and panel of judges during the Wind River Startup Challenge (WRSC) Saturday, May 22.
Pitch Day begins at 12:30 p.m., with presentations scheduled to start at 1 p.m. To view Pitch Day, the YouTube link will be available midday May 22 on the WRSC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/windriverstartupchallenge, as well as at www.windriverstartupchallenge.com.
The WRSC is an opportunity for Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members to pitch their business ideas in hopes of securing a portion of the $30,000 available in startup capital. The WRSC is currently sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), a program funded through the National Science Foundation, and is a collaboration among the Wind River community, Central Wyoming College, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center and the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307.
Finalists were chosen from a broad pool of applicants in October and, with the help and support of business coaches, have developed their business models over the past eight months. While the final awards are competitive, the challenge is a cooperative effort to support entrepreneurs who aspire to take their businesses to new heights.
“It has been an honor and privilege to work with the finalists this year,” says Kyle Trumble, a Central Wyoming College instructor and business counselor for the WRSC. “I am amazed by the effort and enthusiasm that teams continue to display, and realize the hard work and dedication it takes to get to this point. Watching their ideas evolve over the past several months has been inspiring, and I am looking forward to this weekend.”
The finalists are:
-- Dancing Rain Consulting, founded by Harmony Spoonhunter, is a business that seeks to create ease and convenience by digitizing records, creating websites and providing data management for tribal programs as well as other businesses.
-- Goose’s Kitchen, created by chef Leslie Spoonhunter, is a food truck displaying her culinary skills in creating Indigenous dishes. A rotating menu will be featured.
“The Wind River Startup Challenge has made my dream of owning a business a reality,” Spoonhunter says.
-- Timber Beast, owned and operated by Eugene Coulston, is a company that produces local timber products.
-- Native FX Art and Design, launched by Eustace Day, produces a wide variety of custom art designs that include T-shirts, logos, signs and murals.
“The Wind River Startup Challenge opened the doors for building a good foundation for Native FX to be successful -- and to stand alone on and off the reservation,” Day says. “By applying all of the structured elements learned by our startup challenge mentors, I feel Native FX has more of a grasp to reach the world. The vision for Native FX is becoming a reality more now than ever before because of the startup challenge.”
-- SEMAJ, created by Bobbi Shongutsie and Austin Hill, is a business that grows high-value crops.
-- The Monahooboo Hut, conceived by Hannah Nicol, is a food trailer that specializes in chicken fried steak.