Seven student-led teams are vying for seed prize money to get their business plans off the ground in the John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition sponsored by the University of Wyoming’s College of Business.
The John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition awards cash prizes to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submit their business plans for new ventures that show significant business potential.
In response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 situation, the competition has been modified to be a completely virtual public event via Zoom May 8-9.
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To register for the free event, go to
“These teams have been working tirelessly over the past six months in refining their business concepts, and we are confident that these startups will create significant value for the Wyoming economy,” says Patrick Kreiser, the UW College of Business Rile Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship and Leadership. “Our teams represent a variety of customer and product markets, from medicine to education to politics to engineering to a company whose mission it is to support mothers in Wyoming.
“Importantly, building upon the recent celebration of the sesquicentennial of women’s suffrage in Wyoming, two of our four undergraduate finalists this year are led by female entrepreneurs,” Kreiser continues. “Our alumni and stakeholders will be filled with ‘Poke Pride’ when they see the passion and perseverance of this year’s finalists.”
This year, teams entered the competition from various disciplines across campus. The final seven student teams created startups with innovative business models, and each worked with several mentors in preparing their written reports and formal presentations.
Known as the UW $10K Competition until 2011, the John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition encourages students to act on their talents, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow’s leading businesses.
The seven John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition finalists, their projects, team members, majors and hometowns are:
- CellDrop: Team members are Benjamin Noren, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering with a graduate minor in gender and women’s studies, from Ironwood, Mich.; and John Oakey, a UW professor of chemical engineering. CellDrop uses a patented cell delivery process to quickly and permanently regenerate tissue by encasing mesenchymal stem cells in microscopic hydrogel droplets (cells in tiny gel marbles).
- Landseer: Team members are Kurt Stahlfeld, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, from Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Erica Belmont, a UW assistant professor in mechanical engineering. Landseer is producing next-generation lithium battery anodes, with potential to double the energy density of current lithium batteries, via a novel production process with unique cost and environmental advantages.
- Resono: Team members are Pourya Nikoueeyan, a Ph.D. student from Laramie; and Jonathan Naughton, a UW professor of mechanical engineering. Resono Pressure Systems Inc. commercializes an innovative unsteady pressure measurement system for advanced aerospace and wind energy applications.
- Build Mothers, Build the World: Team members are Kyrie Blaney, a senior majoring in marketing, from Evanston; Dilnoza Khasilova, a graduate student in literacy education, from Uzbekistan; Abby Lozano, a coordinator in the UW International Students and Scholars office; and Carole Boughton, business development and public relations director at the Wyoming Montana Safety Council. The mission at Build Mothers, Build the World is to empower Wyoming women through access to postsecondary education; break the cycle of poverty in families; and promote economic development across Wyoming through career placement and development.
- EvolvED: Team members are Brett Ralston, a graduate student in physiology, from Encampment; Chris Larsen, a Laramie County Community College student majoring in computer science, from Jackson Hole; and Samuel Riggs, a Laramie County Community College senior majoring in accounting, from Laramie. EvolvED is a next-generation learning management system that will use advanced algorithms to provide individualized learning plans to students. EvolvED will increase the number of students meeting curricula standards across the state and the country.
- Nexus Reliability: Team members are Fritz Ogden, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, from Laramie; Steve Bagley, a financial controller and data scientist for NexRel; and Chas Ogden, a mechanical engineer and technical developer for NexRel. Nexus Reliability is working to revolutionize how heavy industry uses current remote sensing technologies and big data. The Nexus Connect platform not only saves time and money, but also keeps maintainers and operators safe by preventing catastrophic failures before they occur.
- Step-Up Strategies: Team members are Ashley Hyche, a senior majoring in agriculture communications, from Wheatland; and Ty Shockley, an accountant in Billings, Mont., and a UW graduate from Wheatland. Step-Up Strategies aims to be the solution that allows political campaigns and candidates to connect with their most important constituents by providing highly targeted messaging for state and local races in rural communities.
For more information about the event, visit
This story is provided courtesy of the University of Wyoming. Photos for other contestants were not made immediately available by the University.