Sheridan Start-Up Challenge Finalists Announced

Impact 307, Sheridan’s business incubator has announced the five finalists for this year’s Sheridan Start-Up Challenge entrepreneur competition. The following are the five finalists, in no particular order, and a brief description of their business idea. 

Tyler O’Daniel is the creator of “GrillGate,” an aftermarket pickup truck tailgate with a built-in, collapsible propane gas grill, designed for avid tailgaters, campers and the truck accessory market. 

Jared Koening is the creator of Iter Arnum, a modular adventure rack system that attaches to the box of a pickup truck. The frame is designed for quick reconfiguration of the rack for many different uses, including hauling outdoor recreation and construction gear.

Joe Wesnitzer and Adam Bunker, co-creators of Pap Joe’s Produce, which is a supplier of year-round, hydroponically-grown leafy greens, seasonal produce, and special recipe value-added creations targeted at consumers of locally produced food. 

Scott McDowell, creator of SSI/Virtual Sandtable, a virtual reality-based software and hardware platform that provides an immersive training experience for commercial, municipal, and education facility security applications.

Jason Hodges, creator of Wolf’s Lighted Crystal Necklace, a full-line of fantasy-themed, hand crafted crystal and epoxy jewelry, accessories, and other merchandise targeting renaissance fair and comic con enthusiasts.

This year’s Challenge attracted 51 applicants, a 30% increase in entrants over the 2019 Challenge, and featured many intriguing business plans and ideas. According to Scot Rendall, IMPACT Sheridan Director, the response to the Challenge demonstrates greater interest in starting up new business ventures, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic this year. “We were pleased with both the number and quality of applications. Our Challenge continues to take on regional appeal, with applicants this year from Sheridan, Johnson, Campbell and Park Counties,” said Rendall.

The application period closed on September 22. A panel of community judges reviewed all initial entrants and selected 12 for semi-finalist pitches, where they had an opportunity to pose questions of the applicants. The quality of the applications continues to get stronger each year, and I see many of these entrepreneurs being successful in launching their ventures” said Rendall. “I look forward to helping all applicants develop their business plans and provide the expertise necessary to
help them thrive.”

The finalists will spend the next three weeks working with IMPACT Sheridan and honing their business plans. Each finalist will receive professional presentation support from the Only Co., a Sheridan-based marketing services firm. Finalist Pitch Night will be held on Wednesday, October 28; however, it will not be a public event this year due to Covid-19. Sheridan Media will live-stream the presentations for all of those interested in viewing.

At Pitch Night, the top three judge-selected entrepreneur plans will each receive a $5,000 award and access to additional working capital from a $100,000 seed fund. All finalists will receive incubator space, ongoing counseling, and access to some professional services to aid in their business. The Sheridan Start-Up Challenge is made possible through the generous support of Sheridan County, the City of Sheridan, the Wyoming Business Council, the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation, First Interstate Bank, and Davis & Cannon. IMPACT 307, with business incubators in Casper, Laramie, and Sheridan, is a business development program of the University of Wyoming. It is administered by UW’s Office of Research and Economic Development.

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