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Awards Announced for Virtual UW John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition

April 29, 2021

Six finalists will share a total of $77,000 in prize money after being selected as winners of the University of Wyoming College of Business John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition, which was held virtually April 23-24. 

The grand prize winner, LifeGlass, was awarded $22,500. Team members are Ryan Bettcher, a UW molecular biology graduate student, from Brighton, Colo., and Thomas Boothby, a UW assistant professor of molecular biology. LifeGlass uses the survival mechanisms of desiccation-tolerant organisms to stabilize inherently unstable pharmaceuticals in a thermotolerant, glass-like state.

Nine teams initially were eligible to win funds from the endowed $50,000 prize, the Top Submission awards (four categories), the People’s Choice Awards and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program Award. This year, members of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation attended the event and decided to make a special commitment directly to one of the teams. 

Other winners were:

-- The second grand prize winner, WireDraw LLC, was awarded $22,500. The company is led by Jared Henderson, a junior majoring in business economics, from Greybull. WireDraw LLC is an information management company that designs systems to store, organize and distribute project data to the team. Its systems are tailor-made for each client.

-- The third grand prize winner, AI Understand U, won $5,000. The company is led by Stephanie Bowman, a first-year doctoral student in the UW School of Counseling, Leadership, Advocacy and Design, from Chicago. AI Understand U provides accessible and nonjudgmental mental health and wellness support tailored specifically to college students in the form of an app that features conversational artificial intelligence in the form of a chatbot.

Several other noteworthy awards were made possible through the support of donors for entrepreneurship at UW:

-- Top Submission, Community College Team, Central Wyoming College (CWC), ($1,000), Cooking With Community. Team members, all culinary arts majors at CWC, are: Brittney Niedo, a freshman, from Fort Washakie; freshmen Oliver Chambers, Jair Jimenez and Rodolfo Jimenez, and sophomores Amelia Nolan and Stephanie Roche, all from Jackson. Also on the team is Amy Madera, a faculty member and program director of culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management at CWC. 

Cooking With Community is a mobile commercial teaching kitchen designed to offer year-round culinary instruction in Jackson and training on regional farms and the Wind River Indian Reservation. The trailer will be available for catering of special events.

-- Top Submission, Female Entrepreneur ($1,000), B3. Team members are Perri Meeks, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, from Big Piney; and Brayton Sanders, a machine learning engineer at Flowstate and a 2020 UW MBA graduate. 

B3 is an online web application designed to optimize inventory management for online retail companies. Inventory management refers to the practice of maintaining optimum inventory levels. With the help of B3, entrepreneurs can feel confident in knowing how long their current inventory will last, when they should order more, and how much.

-- Top Submission, Social Enterprise ($1,000), AI Understand U.

-- Top Submission, Best Ability to Positively Impact Wyoming ($1,000), Cooking With Community.

-- People’s Choice Award ($500), B3.

-- Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program Award ($2,500), LifeGlass.

-- Special commitment by John P. Ellbogen Foundation: A special commitment of $20,000 was made to Cooking With Community, a nonprofit organization.

Students who wish to compete in the 2021-22 John P. Elbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition can email Josie Voight at voight@uwyo.edu.

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