Six finalists compete in Casper Start-Up Challenge pitch night

CASPER, Wyo. — Pitch night for the six finalists for the sixth annual Casper Start-Up Challenge is Tuesday, April 19, with $50,000 in seed money at stake.

Free to the public, the event will take place at the The Lyric, 230 W. Yellowstone Highway, in downtown Casper.

“Receiving over 40 applications and narrowing it down to six finalists with our judges was no easy task,” said Eric Schlidt, director of IMPACT Casper. “This year the judges decided upon six finalists instead of the typical five because competition was so stiff.”

The finalists will now work with IMPACT 307 staff to develop their businesses over the next two months, culminating in a final pitch day Tuesday. 

The businesses and entrepreneurs for the 2022 Casper Start-Up Challenge are below.

Deer Creek Arms: 

“I’ve been ripping guns apart and putting them back together for as long as I’ve run tools, I suppose,” Jadon Williams, founders of Deer Creek Arms, told Oil City News.

With a recently acquired metal lathe, Williams is making muzzle brakes and compensators and shotgun-caliber adapters out of a space shared with a manufacturing shop in Glenrock.

Williams said he has designs for his own proprietary rifle that he’s looking to develop as the company grows.

Read the full profile on Oil City News.

Infinite Outdoors:

Sam Seeton’s web- and app-based platform connects hunters, anglers and adventurers to private landowners who list their properties for one-off bookings, similar to Airbnb.

The landowners list their properties for free, and Infinite Outdoors takes a commission on the booking fee. Users pay an annual subscription fee of $39.99, a portion of which goes to an affiliated conservation group of the user’s choice. Infinite Outdoors also offers conservationists and biologists who can consult with landowners to maintain, develop and monitor human impacts to the ecosystem. 

Since the platform launched a year and a half ago, 300,000 acres of land, including seven properties in Wyoming and 100 in Colorado, have been listed. In January of this year, there were 140 bookings.

Read the full profile here.

Guardian Warrior Solutions:

Casper police officer and 13-year military veteran Preston Atwood told Oil City that he cut the prototype for his Raptor Adaptor in his garage on a CNC machine he purchased himself.

The device is a forked PVC-infused thermoplastic adaptor that locks onto a belt any any predetermined angle to attach any MOLLE-equipped pouch. MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) refers mainly to the ladder-like weave of webbing on a vest, pack, or belt that attach to pouches for carrying ammunition, medical supplies or whatever a mission dictates.

The ideal angle for having pouches at the ready varies depending on whether the user is undertaking a combat scenario, is in a competition shoot or is in everyday law enforcement, Atwood said, adding that the applications also extend to hunting and hiking. 

Since last October, he said, he’s put a couple hundred out to market test, including to a member of the French Foreign Legion and a field geologist.

“I don’t have an investor’s mindset: My goal here is a typical American small business. My vision for this is a little manufacturing shop in Casper, with four CNC machines that can be cutting around the clock.” 

Read the full profile here.

Visit the website here.

ACS Juices:

Former school counselor Anna Studer debuted her cold-pressed juice business at the farmer’s market on June 1, 2021.

Through the form on the ACS Juices Facebook page, customers can preorder juices to pick up from Studer’s home or be delivered by Lickety-Split Delivery.

Studer invested in a commercial-grade juicer, which grinds the produce and then feeds it slowly through a hydraulic press. 

“People who are in the juicing world … know the difference and can taste the difference,” Studer said

Studer said the juice is an easy way for people to make healthier choices, especially if they are not keen to crunch on apples or celery throughout the day. Her customers also appreciate having the juice bar–grade product without the labor and mess of juicing at home.

Juicing from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., she gets about 125 bottles per day, three to four days per week. There is about a pound of produce in each 12-ounce bottle.

A commercial space might also allow for the delivery of the produce. Studer states that she is currently buying 500–600 pounds of produce every week from stores around town.

“So, if you’re ever shopping for celery and you can’t find any, you can blame it on me.”

Read the full profile here.

Picture My Story:

With 25 years of experience as a studio photographer and conceptual artist, Audrey Jean is looking to turn one of her studio’s innovations into a national corporation with Picture My Story.

Jean told Oil City that her studio, Audie Jean’s photography, first developed the concept about four years ago with an immersive storybook experience based around Santa.

Working with sets and a team of creative writers, graphic designers, and costume designers, the studio uses portrait photography to create physical, elaborately illustrated storybooks featuring the children as the heroes.

Jean said Picture My Story is the business that is looking to package this concept, including the stories and software library, as “out-of-the-box” intellectual property to sell to other studios.

Not only does this provide the clients “a legacy product that can be handed down through the generations,” but Jean said the stories “are written to tap on character traits, and [themes of] identity, belonging, and the joy of childhood.”

Jean added that her team was also developing a storyline focused on helping children cope with the loss of a pet. Eventually, she’s hoping work to with counselors to develop storybooks that deal with themes like trauma.

With the duck pond set complete, Jean said the studio is also working to elaborate on storybook concepts like Mommy and Me, Mermaid World, Pirate World, Gone Fishing and Pumpkin Patch. 

With the elaborate worlds created in the studio, Jean said the shoots themselves are like a “stay-cation” experience for children, where they get to interact with fantasy characters (and real ducks).

“They’re really these interactive experiences that children become part of,” Jean said, “and photography is just the added bonus because they get a keepsake that they’re the main character in.”

Read the full profile here.

Intuitive Surgical Design

Tim Ficken, a sterile processing manager at Summit Medical Center, told Oil City he developed his product to solve the “complexities” he’s observed over his career as a surgical technologist.

“After 20 years in the OR, you see a lot of the same frustrations come up repeatedly, where there’s no simple solution,” Ficken said.

His company, Intuitive Surgical Design, has two prototypes: a “quick-access organizational tool that can be attached to the operating field” that can also prevent the contamination of items during surgery and a highly-adjustable, multi-positional platform on a flexible arm that gives a place for surgeons to put items during surgery.

It may be difficult to describe to those unfamiliar with the surgical theater, but Ficken said that the surgeons he’s shown the second prototype to have instantly recognized its value.

“Every single one of them has said that second it’s available, they will use it.”

Ficken said winning funding from the Casper Start-Up Challenge would allow him to more rapidly develop the prototype by purchasing more 3D printers and advancing his filings for certification with the FDA.

Read the full profile here.

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