- Apply to UW
- Programs & Majors
- Cost & Financial Aid
- Current Students
- UW Life
- About UW
Published January 24, 2024
The Wyoming Business Resource Network and UW’s IMPACT 307 support businesses and entrepreneurs across the state.
By Micaela Myers
Wyoming’s investments in supporting entrepreneurial activity are paying off. The Digital Project Manager ranks Wyoming sixth in its list of the most entrepreneurial states, with 12,357 small businesses and nearly a 120 percent increase in business applications from 2019 to 2022. The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office shows a 25 percent increase in revenue from business filings in the last fiscal year compared to the previous year.
The University of Wyoming plays a critical role in this success. UW’s Research and Economic Development Division and the Wyoming Business Council collaborate on the Wyoming Business Resource Network to assist businesses throughout the state. The network includes the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network, IMPACT 307, Wyoming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Manufacturing Works, Technology Transfer and Research Products Center, Wyoming Apex Accelerator, and Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative.
“The Business Resource Network is a grouping of programs designed to help entrepreneurs across the state — every shape, size and industry,” says IMPACT 307 Senior Director Derrek Jerred. “Some resources are also designed for companies looking to pivot, change direction or find a new course.”
UW’s IMPACT 307, formerly known as the Wyoming Technology Business Center, launched in 2005. Its mission is to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state by developing successful startup and early-stage ventures. With a physical presence in four counties and actively expanding its presence into all 23 counties, IMPACT 307 works to build a pipeline of small-business activity through local startup challenges, mentorship, seed funding, business incubation and office space, and other economic development services.
“In five years, we want to be nationally recognized as a leader in incubation across a distributed statewide network with excellence in community college collaboration and input in local markets across the state,” Jerred says.
He also sees great potential to expand commercialization of UW’s research. “We can help take the research and intellectual property being generated by our faculty and commercialize it in a tangible way,” Jerred says. Often that requires industry partnerships, which is where IMPACT 307 plays a big role.
Read on to learn about two businesses assisted by IMPACT 307.
Even college students can successfully start a business in Wyoming — in fact, they are encouraged to do so. Three students did just that to form BAST Manufacturing, which utilizes hemp to create sustainable high-performance air filters for tractors, HVAC units and other filtration needs. The team includes Carly Keller, a student from Torrington majoring in veterinary technology at Eastern Wyoming College; Clayton Auzqui, a recent UW graduate from Clearmont who studied economics and agriculture business; and Jared Clapper, a UW senior from Veteran studying finance. In 2022, they won the Goshen County Start-Up Challenge, and in 2023, they went on to win the UW College of Business’ John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition.
All three grew up in agricultural settings, and Keller came up with the idea due to her allergies. She played around with creating a hemp tractor air filter and entered her creation in science fairs. Clapper and Auzqui met while taking classes in UW’s entrepreneurship program, and Clapper knew Keller from childhood. The three decided to form a team. Clapper heads up sales and marketing, while Auzqui focuses on the finance and accounting side of things.
Currently, BAST is finishing up the research and development phase and working on its supply chain, which the team hopes will eventually be 100 percent Wyoming.
“We hope to leverage local resources and producers,” Clapper says. “If everything works out, we could have a very short supply chain that begins and ends in Goshen County. That’s the dream.”
They plan to launch a Kickstarter fundraising campaign this spring and hire student interns to help. Luckily, the competitions they entered gave them a big head start.
“The Ellbogen was greatly beneficial,” Auzqui says. “Jared and I had been through a lot of entrepreneurship classes, so it was a big step to apply to the competition. It took us through multiple rounds and forced us to put the time in, learn to make a pitch presentation, develop public speaking skills and understand what investors are looking for in a startup. It also did a great job bringing in external resources and pairing us with mentors from the community.”
The BAST team is being mentored by IMPACT 307 Assistant Director Brian Young, Laramie businessman Gustave Anderson and three folks from the nonprofit Silicon Couloir in Jackson.
“We definitely couldn’t have come this far without IMPACT 307,” Clapper says.
“Doing those two competitions back-to-back really helped us,” Auzqui says. “A big thing for startups is losing momentum. These competitions held us accountable. The resources were also invaluable for getting us to where we are today.”
Both recommend students “just go for it.” As College of Business Professor of Practice Corey Billington told them: “The world will help if you let it.”
“Now is the time,” Clapper says. “There’s never been more opportunity in Wyoming than there is now. The whole state is focusing on entrepreneurship and giving entrepreneurs the resources to be successful.”
Sam Seeton grew up on his family’s ranch in Colorado but always had ties to Wyoming, including his cousin-in-law, UW track coach Bryan Berryhill. After college and a multiyear climb of the corporate ladder, Seeton chose to start his own business and move it to Wyoming.
“The amount of resources that are available for us and the doors that opened to us here are incredible,” Seeton says. “Those resources aren’t afforded to you in any other state. We didn’t have any support from universities or the state when we were a Colorado company.”
Seeton describes his business, Infinite Outdoors, as similar to an Airbnb site but for hunting and fishing land access with extreme focus on conservation. “It allows a new way for landowners to make money without giving away rights to their land,” he says. “They can still let their friends hunt or fish but also make some money, all while having free access to Infinite’s team of conservation biologists. From an outdoorsman perspective, it created a new market for the do-it-yourself outdoorsman to access these properties without having to pay a high yearly lease or to pay an outfitter. The mobile app helps facilitate the interaction between the outdoorsman and the landowner. It also has additional advanced mapping features to help folks find public land around the country.”
Since launching Infinite Outdoors three years ago, the company is the biggest private land app with over a million acres of private land across a dozen states on the platform. Seeton and his team plan to go nationwide while growing their base in Casper.
“The Casper community has been awesome,” Seeton says. “I don’t think our company would be close to where it’s at without IMPACT 307. They accelerated our growth by several years.”
Infinite Outdoors connected with IMPACT 307 during the 2022 Casper Start-Up Challenge.
“It opened our eyes to the fact there were other ways to grow our business and grow faster than just bootstrapping,” Seeton says. “Tapping into those resources and using the experiences of others really helped. Winning the Start-Up Challenge opened a lot of doors to people who are now investors and connected us with the incubator, where we now have our offices.”
It also led to Infinite Outdoors becoming a corporate partner for UW’s Center for Professional Selling, which helps students learn essential skills such as developing customers and managing a pipeline of business. Infinite Outdoors works with UW students on joint projects and hires interns and alumni.
The company also partners with Visit Casper, which sponsors a layer of its app map for free public land use. “It’s been a great partnership to open access to the outdoors and put a spotlight on our headquarters here,” Seeton says.
While he works harder than he ever did, Seeton wouldn’t have it any other way. “The biggest thing I like about being an entrepreneur is being in control of my own destiny,” he says. “If I succeed, it’s because of myself, our co-founders and the team we surround ourselves with. If something doesn’t go well, I have no one to blame but myself. I like having control of my future.”
Wyoming Business Resource Network
In addition to IMPACT 307, the Business Resource Network offers many programs to help businesses (uwyo.edu/research/business-resource-network.)
The Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network provides no-cost full-service small business advising, training and education; works with startups and existing businesses; provides market research and digital marketing analysis; and offers advisers throughout the state.
Manufacturing Works offers broad technical assistance and engineering solutions for manufacturing businesses; assists clients with continuous improvement strategies, cybersecurity measures, quality management, prototyping, supplier scouting and more; and has advisers throughout the state.
The Technology Transfer and Research Products Center helps UW personnel and students secure intellectual property rights for inventions and innovation concepts based on university-sponsored research activities; supports technology transfer of inventions and innovations to industry; and provides general support regarding intellectual property statewide through educational outreach.
Wyoming Apex Accelerator provides assistance and advising for those who want to contract with the U.S. government as well as state and local government contracting opportunities; offers no-cost advising, training and educational opportunities; and helps navigate the government contracting learning curve.
Wyoming SBIR/STTR Initiative offers assistance and advising to help entrepreneurs and small business owners research, develop and commercialize their innovations; offers information and assistance on applying for the $2.5 billion awarded each year by the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and hosts education and training programs to help in applying for federal funds.
Wyoming Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation aims to coordinate, collaborate, promote and strengthen the entrepreneurship mindset across the state while making UW a leader in the innovation sector.