2019 Casper Start-Up Challenge open for entries

Assistant director John Glassburn and director Jerad Stack pose on the historic staircase at the Wyoming Technology Business Center recently in Casper. The 1920s-era building was originally used by Amoco for their Casper refinery offices and has been incorporated into a business incubator. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

All that’s required to enter the 2019 Casper Start-Up Challenge is a good idea for a business and a few minutes. But for this modest investment, the payoff could be life-changing.

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.

Kyle Petrie and Eric Mundorf pose in the Barnwood Bros. showroom in Casper. The business, which specializes in reclaiming and reusing materials from dilapidated barns and sheds, was one of the five finalists in the 2018 Start-Up Challenge. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

“Our goal is to invigorate the start-up entrepreneurial community here, to get people thinking about starting companies, to get that idea they have out of the garage and into fruition,” Jerad Stack, director the Wyoming Technology Business Center-Casper, said.

Article continues below...

People can enter the Start-Up Challenge no matter how early they are in business development – even if all they have is a good idea. Others may be in the initial stages of business formation.

Nicol Kramer and Todd Kramer, owners of Aerial Enforcement Solutions pose with two of their drone prototypes in the hallway of the Wyoming Technology Business Center’s Casper incubator. The couple won the 2017 Casper Start-Up Challenge with their idea of using drones for crowd control. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Before entering the competition, Stack recommends that interested persons call him at (307) 315-6401, or John Glassburn at (307) 315-6404 for a preliminary discussion about their ideas.

Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to attend an informational mixer which will be held at Frontier Brewing Co., 117 E. 2nd St., on Thursday, Aug. 15, at 5:30 p.m.

Brian Deurloo, founder and president of Frog Creek Products, opens up one of the company’s Gutter Bin systems installed in front of Yellowstone Garage in downtown Casper. The system, which he developed after winning the 2016 Casper Start-Up Challenge, captures rubbish before it enters storm drains and is discharged out into the North Platte River. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Full details also are available at the Casper Start-Up Challenge website, casperstartupchallenge.com. The application process is easy, taking only a few minutes.

The Challenge, now in its fourth year, aims “to build companies that down the road could have the potential to create jobs in Casper,” Stack said, such as high-technology or manufacturing firms.

The entry form for the Casper Start-Up Challenge requires participants to answer just four questions.

“One thing we would like to get more of this year is people who are just in the idea stage,” Stack added. “Maybe they are not a business, but they have a little side product or idea.”

In the past, he noted that the Start-Up Challenge sometimes was viewed as an event geared toward more established businesses, but that is not the case.

Registration began Aug. 12 and will end Sept. 12. Interviews with semi-finalists will be Sept. 18 and 19.

Bradley Erickson and Eric Lewis, owners of a 2016 Start-Up Challenge winning company, Bison Kings Studios, pose in their office (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

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/.

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

Semi-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 semi-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, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, First Interstate Bank, the Wyoming Business Council, Oil City News, and WIDC Frontier CDC.