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Ten Teams to Compete in Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition at UW

March 1, 2018

Ten student-led teams are vying for seed prize money to get their business plans off the ground in the John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition sponsored by the University of Wyoming’s College of Business.

The entrepreneurial competition awards cash prizes to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submit their business plans for new ventures that show significant business potential. The competition will be held at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center Thursday, April 26.

The entrepreneurship competition is part of a daylong UW Entrepreneurship Summit. The UW College of Business hosts both the competition and summit. For more information, click here. To RSVP for the summit, click here.

This year, teams entered the competition from various disciplines across campus, ranging from undergraduate to doctoral students. The final 10 student teams created companies, and each worked with a mentor for the final presentation.

Known as the UW $10K Competition until 2011, the John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition encourages students to act on their talents, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow's leading businesses.

New for this year’s competition is prize money that has been increased from $30,000, and teams can enter their business ideas in two newly created categories.

“This year, we have identified two distinct tracks in the competition: a social enterprise track that is more community-focused and a business track that is more technology and business service-based,” says Steve Russell, assistant dean in the College of Business. “The separation into two tracks has allowed our judges to no longer have to compare ‘apples’ to ‘oranges’ within the submissions, but it will leave us with only five finalists in each category.”

Team members spend their evenings in seminars focused around various topics, including strategy, sales and marketing; patenting processes; business resources in Wyoming; financial projections and legal matters, he adds.

For more information about the student competition and the business summit, call Russell at (307) 766-4112 or email

The 10 John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition finalists, their projects, team members, majors and hometowns are:

Business Track Teams

-- Bowl Boyz: Team members are Ryan Gallagher, a College of Business MBA student, and Mike Magner, a graduate student from Rutgers in finance, both from Norwood, Mass. Bowl Boyz offers affordable, healthy, premium-quality super fruit (acai and dragon fruit) food bowls.

-- Foxy Fuels: Kurt Stahlfield, a graduate student majoring in mechanical engineering, from Laramie. Foxy Fuels has developed a simple and inexpensive process for the production of lipids and biodiesel using microbial technology.

-- IoTherm: Kennan Oyen, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology, from Fairbanks, Alaska. IoTherm has created precision temperature control systems that are small, bench-top and/or portable, customizable units designed to perfectly accommodate standard laboratory glass vials in which combinatorial biology can be performed.

-- Medical Device Advisors: Grace Tena de Lara, a student with The Array School of Technology and Design in Cheyenne. Medical Device Advisors is an online community that provides a five-star rating system with comments, specifications and links to scientific studies for those seeking research data, and also for health care professionals to quickly review medical devices based on experiences of other users.

-- TutorU: Team members are Tayln Costello, a petroleum engineering major, with a minor in business and honors, from Pinedale; and Christopher Walker, a graduate student in civil engineering, from Laramie. TutorU is a social networking app that connects students in real time with paid tutors, free university-provided tutors, professors or other students that are working on the same subject, problems or projects.

Social Enterprise Track Teams

-- GROWyoming: Team members are Claire Ratcliffe, a recent graduate of the College of Education with an M.S. degree in natural science education, and Bryan Jewell, a Salt Lake Community College horticulture major, both from Salt Lake City, Utah. GROWyoming is an organization that provides garden-based education resources and support for K-12 schools and youth programs in southeastern Wyoming.

-- Messis Farms: Team members are Kyler Cochrane, a marketing major, from Green River; and Dalten Fox, a Colorado State University political science major, from Fort Collins. Messis Farms is a holistic, healthy and sustainable produce market that will have the potential to end nutritional insecurity in many areas.

-- Nurses Inc: Jessica Stalder, a business administration major, from Laramie. Nurses Inc. provides in-home nursing care to fill in the gaps for services currently available in the Wyoming market. The company will provide relief to overwhelmed family caregivers, especially those caring for family members with complex medical conditions or Alzheimer's disease. Nurses Inc. also would sponsor a medication aide program that uses certified nursing aides (CNAs) who have gone through additional training and are able to manage medications in post-acute care settings.

-- PROPHECY</VR: Team members are Phineas Kelly, a graduate student in anthropology, and Emma Jane Alexander, a research scientist and assistant lecturer in the School of Energy Resources, both from Laramie. PROPHECY</VR creates content in partnership with indigenous peoples and then deploys that content across multiple communication modalities.

-- Sunao: Jerica Hunter, a College of Business MBA student, from Worland. Sunao provides a service to businesses and consumers with the goal of eliminating the use of conventional plastic bags.

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