UW’s John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition Scheduled April 21-22

graphic for eventThe University of Wyoming College of Business will host the 23rd annual John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition Friday and Saturday, April 21-22.

“The John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition provides an outstanding learning opportunity for students across all disciplines at the University of Wyoming and Wyoming community colleges. Students are able to learn about the entrepreneurial process while being paired with real-world mentors and learning from an outstanding panel of judges,” says Patrick Kreiser, UW College of Business Rile Chair of Entrepreneurship and Leadership. “Positive change comes from educating the citizens of Wyoming and helping students to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset.”

This year’s competition will be moderated by Brad Enzi, president and CEO of the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, and Taylor Vignaroli, entrepreneur development manager for the Wyoming Business Council. The competition will be judged by six panelists and will feature eight student teams from UW and Wyoming community colleges that will compete for $50,000 in seed money to grow their businesses.

Teams competing are OneHealth, Purely Persistent, BAST Manufacturing, Edge Flyte, MC Cares, Heart to Heart - WY, Wyoming Rail Yard and Inspira Nutrition.

Each team will compete in Round 1, which kicks off at 1 p.m. April 21 in Room 123 of the College of Business Building. Round 1 will consist of a 10- to 11-minute presentation, followed by 10-12 minutes of questions from the judging panelists. The four teams advancing to Round 2 will be announced at 6:30 p.m.   

Round 2 presentations begin at 9 a.m. April 22. Round 2 will feature 25-minute interactive discussions between teams and judges, the latter who will play the roles of potential customers of each business. The final winner(s) and award amounts will be announced at 12:30 p.m. 

“There are a variety of business types represented in this year’s finalist teams,” Kreiser says. “We are ecstatic that the hard work and entrepreneurial initiative shown by these teams will translate into new and innovative business models throughout the state.”

The winner of the first competition in 2001 was Rocky Mountaineering Inc., a business idea focused on manufacturing rock-climbing and mountaineering products in Laramie. Team members were Marvin Perry (M.S. ’01, mechanical engineering); Joe Pawlicki (MBA ’01 and B.S. ’97, finance); and Lacey (Songer) Mercil (MBA ’01 and B.S. ’98, agriculture).

With private support from First Interstate Bank Foundation, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation and individual donors, UW’s entrepreneurship competition has continued to grow and flourish. In 2011, the competition prize money grew from $10,000 to $30,000 and, in 2017, the event became a $50,000 competition. In 2010, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation created an endowment that was matched by the state of Wyoming to provide support for the competition award winners in perpetuity.

An important goal of UW’s College of Business is to support the vitality of the state. In support of such efforts, the college has expanded this event to include various types of businesses and industry contexts. 

“The Ellbogen Competition provides students the opportunity to build their businesses. Over the past 22 years, many winners have gone on to form successful businesses,” says College of Business Dean Scott Beaulier. “We’re excited to host a variety of teams from across the state and to see what this crop of entrepreneurs is able to produce.”

Notable companies that have launched successfully after competing in the UW entrepreneurship competition are Table Mountain Vineyards in 2004; Bright Agrotech in 2011; GlycoBac LLC in 2011; and Valued Energy Platform, now Disa LLC, in 2017.

The public is invited to attend in person and virtually. To register to attend the event, go here.  

For questions or more information, call Josie Voight, project coordinator, at (307) 399-0271 or email voight@uwyo.edu.

Contact Us

Institutional Communications
Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2929
Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

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