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2019 Casper Start-Up Challenge deadline nears

Ben Hauser, owner of Advanced Geotechnical Solutions, poses at the Wyoming Technology Business Center-Casper recently. Hauser was a contestant in the 2016 Casper Start-Up Challenge. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Do you have an idea for a new business and need help turning your concept into a reality?

Then check out the 2019 Casper Start-Up Challenge. 

The goal of the Start-Up Challenge is to inspire, then provide guidance and support, to entrepreneurs who want to take their ideas and turn them into viable businesses – especially those that have a potential to create a significant number of jobs in Casper.

But don’t delay, registration for this year’s event ends Sept. 12. 

The Start-Up Challenge, in its fourth year, is hosted by the Wyoming Technology Business Center-Casper.

The application process is easy, although event organizers recommend that you contact WTBC staff before the deadline to discuss your idea. Call WTBC Director Jerad Stack at (307) 315-6401, or Assistant Director John Glassburn at (307) 315-6404.

Full details are available at the Casper Start-Up Challenge website, casperstartupchallenge.com. Entrepreneurs in the “idea stage” of business development are especially encouraged to participate.

While the application process is easy, the rewards could be substantial. 

Three finalists in this year’s competition will each receive $5,000 and will be eligible to receive a share of $50,000 in start-up seed money. They also will receive free office space for a year and professional mentoring.

Even if you don’t win, the rewards of participation could be substantial, both in terms of business-to-business networking and material support. 

In 2016, Ben Hauser entered the Casper Start-Up Challenge with an innovative geotechnical engineering idea. While he didn’t win, Ben said the experience helped confirmed there was a market for his services.

Today, Ben’s firm, Advanced Geotechnical Solutions, provides state-of-the-art exploration and engineering methods that help clients better understand soil and rock conditions. Advanced Geotechnical Solutions works with civil engineering firms, construction companies, municipalities, mineral exploration and extraction companies, and many others. It has a staff of four people.

Ben said the Casper Start-Up Challenge gave him “the opportunity to visit with top-notch business counselors to kind of float my idea to see if it was a viable business. It gave me the confidence to go forward.”

Ben also was provided space at the Casper Business Incubator, which allowed him to receive on-going advice from WTBC experts.

He added that entrepreneurs owe it to themselves to chat with WTBC staff about their ideas before the deadline for this year’s Start-Up Challenge.

“I’m proof you don’t have to win it, to take a good business idea and make a good business,” he said.

Interviews with Start-Up Challenge semi-finalists will be Sept. 18 and 19.

Matt Kull, owner and developer of Simple Injection, mingles after winning the Casper Start-Up Challenge in 2018. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

An entrepreneurial “Boot Camp” will be held Oct. 4 and 5, during which time business experts will explore with participants such important matters as legal and financial issues, marketing, product design, competitive analysis, intellectual property, and team development. For more information on the Boot Camp, visit the website https://www.caeda.net/boot-camp/.

Finalists will work with WTBC staff to develop their business ideas and thus will benefit from staff expertise throughout the competition process.

The Start-Up Challenge “Pitch Day” will be held on Nov. 7 at the Lyric in downtown Casper. This year’s finalists will be allotted 20 minutes each to sell their business ideas to a panel of judges. Judges will have 10 minutes after each presentation to ask questions. A reception will follow the announcement of this year’s winners. Pitch Day is free and open to the public.

The Casper Start-Up Challenge is sponsored by CAEDA/Forward Casper, First Interstate Bank, the Wyoming Business Council, Oil City News, and WIDC Frontier CDC.