Where Founders and Innovation Thrive - A University of Wyoming program

Catching Up with the 2020 Sheridan Start-Up Challenge Winner, Wolf’s Cosplay Shop

Each start-up challenge or launchpad facilitated by IMPACT 307 is designed to provide multiple resources to the participants, whether they win the challenge or chosen as finalists. Once a challenge is complete, we our team of experts continue offering resources to the participating start-ups and entrepreneurs and are always impressed with how they move forward and find success. In 2020, Jason Hodges of Wolf’s Cosplay Shop won the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge and learned first-hand how the resources provided can take an idea to the next level. Below he shares his experience transitioning from the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge into building and growing his business.

Wolf’s Cosplay Shop began at a small desk as “Wolf’s Lighted Crystal Necklaces” where Jason created necklaces from crystals gathered in his surrounding landscape near Sheridan. Using his background in microelectronics, Jason was able to make the crystals glow. Incorporating his children’s imaginations and their ideas as inspiration for new items, Jason’s small necklace business has grown into so much more.

Jason has lived in Sheridan for seven years and has always heard about the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge. Beyond the local promotion, he never gave the challenge much thought, until last Fall. In September 2020, he decided to apply for the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge to see what he could do with his growing business. Chosen as a Semi-Finalist, he was asked to give his pitch and invited to join the Finalist Challenge. Since competing in the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge, new ideas and resources have allowed Jason to expand his business, which now includes fantasy jewelry, leathered armor, leather bags, staffs, swords and other accessories.

With no intention of leaving his job in a graphic design, sales, and marketing, Jason never imagined that his side hustle would turn into a full-time dream job, known now as “Wolf’s Cosplay Shop.” The seed funding Jason received as the top finalist has been life changing, helping him move forward at an unimaginable pace. He now employs four employees, two of which are his children who provided that important inspiration in the beginning. He has also expanded his production from the corner of his garage to his present space: a two-story shop. The extra room has allowed him to obtain more equipment to increase production. Adding a laser cutter, lathes, bandsaws, resin equipment, and molding equipment has taken his business to another level. Additionally, the office space awarded to finalists at the IMPACT Sheridan office will provide the space he needs for more business development.

In addition to the seed funding and office space, Jason says one of the most valuable resources given to each finalist is the business expertise. Never before had Jason had access to knowledgeable mentorship, nor would he have known where to start.

“Scot [Rendall] and Katherine [Schrock] of IMPACT Sheridan really went out of their way to help each business and never showed any preference, whether the business was the Challenge winner or not. It was clear that their main goal was to help each business succeed and that really stood out to me” said Jason.

If there any knowledge or advice to Jason has for those wondering if a Start-Up Challenge is for them, he says to go for it!

“You will not only have access to amazing resources but gain a different perspective and

help to shore up any thoughts and ideas, whether they are fully developed or not. IMPACT 307 really helps a new business to plan, succeed, and provides encouragement through the whole process.”

Congratulations once again to Jason! Learn more about his winning business, Wolf’s Cosplay Shop here or on Facebook. If you have an idea for a start-up or just need an extra boost, piece of advice, or want to talk through your business idea, IMPACT 307 is here to assist. With incubators in Sheridan, Casper, and Laramie, we’re ready to help you get started today

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