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Eight Wind River Startup Challenge Finalists Announced

February 3, 2021

The Wind River Startup Challenge, a regional entrepreneurship opportunity designed to distribute thousands of dollars to Native-owned startups, received significantly more applications from Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone entrepreneurs this year. Eight finalist teams will advance to the Final Pitch Day, currently scheduled for May.

“We are encouraged to see the increase in applications and the wide variety of the business concepts this year for the Wind River Startup Challenge, even in the midst of COVID-19,” says David Bohling, the director of IMPACT 307, located at the University of Wyoming. “With help from Central Wyoming College (CWC) and the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC), we find it gratifying to assist these entrepreneurs in their efforts in trying to start or grow their businesses.”

Wyoming EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), IMPACT 307, the SBDC Network, CWC and UW’s High Plains American Indian Research Institute support the Wind River Startup Challenge. The partners will continue to coach, mentor and encourage entrepreneurs through Final Pitch Day. In addition to seed funding, winners will receive ongoing support as their business ideas develop into tangible startups.

Entrepreneurship is needed on the Wind River Indian Reservation, and “seeing these great ideas come to fruition through the workshops from an idea to a business plan” makes it closer to a reality for the finalists, says Tarissa Spoonhunter, a CWC associate professor. She teaches nation building economic concepts in the new Bachelor of Applied Science tribal leadership option.

“Economic development is starting to expand beyond tribally owned businesses to citizen entrepreneurs, thanks to the Wind River Startup Challenge,” Spoonhunter adds.

The finalists are:

-- Dancing Rain Consulting, founded by Harmony Spoonhunter, which seeks to create ease and convenience by digitizing records, creating websites and providing data management on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

-- Goose’s Kitchen, created by chef Leslie Spoonhunter, is a food truck displaying Spoonhunter’s culinary skills in creating Indigenous dishes and will provide a rotating menu.

-- Cammi’s Tire & Service, established by Cameron Enos, will be a mechanic and tire shop on the reservation.

-- Bull Lake Construction, owned and managed by Tiffany Day and James St. Clair, gives Wind River Indian Reservation residents reliable service and a fair price for their construction needs.

-- 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.

-- SEMAJ, devised by Bobbi Shongutsie and Austin Hill, will be a grower of high-value crops.

-- The Monahooboo Hut, conceived by Hannah Nicol, is a food trailer that specializes in chicken fried steak.

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