The Wind River Startup Challenge, a regional entrepreneurship opportunity designed to distribute thousands of dollars to Native-owned startups, received over 20 applications from Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone entrepreneurs. Nine finalist teams will advance to the Final Pitch Day, currently scheduled for May.
“We were pleased with the number of compelling applications we received during the first year of this program. The judges were impressed with the amount of community-focused ideas,” says Veronica Donahue, an intern at the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) at the University of Wyoming.
Wyoming EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), the WTBC, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network, Central Wyoming College and UW’s High Plains American Indian Research Institute support the Wind River Startup Challenge. These partners will continue to coach, mentor and encourage entrepreneurs through Final Pitch Day. In addition to seed funding, winners will receive ongoing support as their business ideas develop into tangible startups.
“I’m excited to dig into the ideas and explore the feasibility, desirability and viability of these ventures,” says Kyle Trumble, a business counselor for the program. “Helping people clarify and test their assumptions is a fun part of the process.”
The finalists are:
— Heavy Hand Fencing, owned by Kevin Goggles, provides ranchers, farmers and homeowners with quality fencing. Goggles works directly with customers to get the job done quickly.
— Java Blues, founded by Glenda and Kenneth Trosper, seeks to provide residents and commuters with fresh and convenient coffee, pastries and other goodies.
— Kellan Holbrook is concerned with finding new ways to provide clean and affordable water to the Wind River Indian Reservation community.
— Letitia Black provides artists more exposure for their work through retail and marketing services focusing on American Indian art.
— Leveler Nutrition, founded by Denyse Bergie, a certified PN-L1 nutrition coach and CF-L2 trainer, seeks to give clients more support in achieving their wellness goals through fitness and nutrition coaching.
— Lindsay and Jacoby Hereford Sr. will bring authentic smoked barbecue and ribs to the Wind River Indian Reservation.
— Reds Recon Automotive Detail, founded by Letara and Red Lebeau, provides car detailing services to residents and organizations in the community. Reds Recon proposes to expand to a permanent facility.
— Stephanie C’Hair, a certified cosmetologist, intends to open a salon on the Wind River Indian Reservation and plans to offer a variety of salon services.
— Taylor Bell is establishing a social enterprise that seeks to support, feature and call attention to talented, passionate and distinguished individuals.
The Wind River Startup Challenge Final Pitch Day in May is an opportunity for the nine finalists to present their business proposals in from of an independent judging panel. The event will be open to the public.