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Eight Teams to Compete in John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition April 22-23

April 11, 2022
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Eight student-led teams will vie for seed prize money to get their business plans off the ground in the John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition at the University of Wyoming.

The competition will take place Friday and Saturday, April 22-23, in person in the UW College of Business Building and virtually via WyoCast. To register to attend the event, go here.

Sponsored by the UW College of Business, the competition encourages students to act on their talents, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow's leading businesses.

“We are once again excited about the innovative ideas and hard work shown by this year’s finalist teams,” says Patrick Kreiser, UW College of Business Rile Chair of Entrepreneurship and Leadership. “More than anything, the purpose of experiential learning is to convince students to dream big and then provide them with the support to turn those dreams into reality. It is critical for new ideas and companies to enter the Wyoming economy. We are confident that the teams in the 2022 John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition will offer valuable and innovative business models that help to propel the Wyoming economy into the future.”

The John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition awards cash prizes to outstanding student-led entrepreneur teams showing significant business potential. Teams enter the competition from various disciplines across the UW campus or Wyoming community colleges. The final eight student teams are creating startups with innovative business models. The UW undergraduate teams are enrolled in “ENTR 4700: Business Model Creation and Launch,” and each team has been paired with a mentor. 

The eight team finalists, their business concepts, team members, majors and hometowns are:

-- Carving the Future is a 501(c)(3) organization that empowers youth through inclusive access to snowboarding and skateboarding, and it provides gear, programs, lessons and athletic scholarships for underserved youth. The goal of the business is to promote physical, mental and social confidence for each. Talia Atkins, from Jackson, is the current executive director of Carving the Future. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and business/entrepreneurship leadership, and she now is pursuing a second major in tribal leadership at Central Wyoming College.

-- CASTRA 307 is an outdoor living brand committed to democratizing the accessibility of modern car camping. Team members are Luis Firo, a senior from Denver, Colo., and Joseph Rubald, a senior from Loveland, Colo., both majoring in entrepreneurship at UW.

-- GigaChar LLC will provide monitoring, reporting and validation, and develop pathways for the large-scale use of biochar-based carbon dioxide removal. Biochar is a carbon-rich, durable material, similar in appearance to charcoal. Biochar is made from organic materials such as plant matter but is currently facing challenges regarding the accurate quantification of its carbon stability. Team members are Erica Belmont, an associate professor and head of the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Alexandra Howell, a UW doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering from Morrill, Neb.

-- GS Solar, a renewable energy manufacturing company, is creating adjustable, easy-to-install solar mounting solutions that increase viability and output while shortening solar install time. Grant Serbousek, a UW senior from Lafayette, Colo., is majoring in mechanical engineering.

-- IVIE Farms, located in Lander, will provide locally grown fresh produce and meat to the Wind River Indian Reservation and surrounding communities through selling at local farmers markets and by offering a delivery service designed to accommodate local customers. Aaron Ivie, a freshman from Kinnear, majors in agroecology at Central Wyoming College.

-- Laboratory Inventory Management Systems (LIMS) is an end-to-end solution of software and hardware designed to contextualize samples first drawn from the field, as they get processed in the lab, and long after work has concluded. LIMS offers a safe, reliable and compliant way to collect, track, maintain and report data throughout a project’s lifetime. Team members are Shannon Albeke, a senior research scientist in UW’s Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center; and Nicholas Case, a UW graduate student from Laramie, who is majoring in geospatial information science and technology.

-- UplinkRobotics LLC is a manufacturing company that specializes in inspection robotics and drones. The company’s launching product -- a remote-controlled, wheeled robot that collects video and thermal data -- helps home inspectors survey crawl spaces. Future products being explored include drones that can complete aerial inspections in hard-to-reach places such as attics and other rover variants that can go inside spaces such as pipes or walls. Team members, all from UW, are Oreoluwa Babatunde, a senior from Aremo, Oyo State, Nigeria, majoring in computer engineering; Christian Bitzas, a senior from Powell majoring in computer engineering; Brady Wagstaff, a senior from Evanston majoring in computer engineering; and Zoe Worthen, a senior from Gillette majoring in business management entrepreneurship.

-- Virtual Reality Athletics provides quality entertainment for local community members throughout the entire year using virtual reality simulators. In many northern states, people find themselves in a hibernation mode during the winter, with little form of entertainment. This company will help people enjoy the activities they love year-round and reach their peak performance by offering state-of-the-art simulators with instant data analytic feedback. Rhett Muchmore, a senior from Cheyenne, is a dual major in accounting and entrepreneurship at UW.

For more information, email Josie Voight at voight@uwyo.edu.

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