Nine semifinalist companies have been selected to move on to the next stage of the inaugural Sweetwater County Innovation Launchpad, a startup competition. The contest is administered by IMPACT Sweetwater, a partnership between the University of Wyoming’s IMPACT 307 and Western Wyoming Community College.
The semifinalists were chosen from among 28 applicants. The semifinalists will receive mentorship from IMPACT 307 and are participating in an IMPACT 307 multi-session business boot camp. Four additional companies also were invited from the applicant pool to participate in the boot camp.
The Sweetwater County Innovation Launchpad is an IMPACT 307 regional startup challenge that is supported by local donors, the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Green River Chamber of Commerce, the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Wyoming Innovation Partnership and the Wyoming Business Council.
The semifinalists were chosen from applications that followed the “Lean Launchpad” methodology. Each company had to define a customer’s problem and propose a solution for that problem. They also had to discuss the ideal customers for their product or service. Tiffany Kindel, of Commerce Bank of Wyoming, participated in the judging.
The business boot camp kicked off June 23. Each company presented an elevator pitch, and companies received training from Anne Mason, of Relative Theatrics, on how to give an engaging presentation. Bonnie and Barry Tippy, of Red White Buffalo, discussed their firsthand entrepreneurial experiences. Monica Patten and Fred Schmechel, of IMPACT 307, presented on business models and innovation.
Companies will give pitch presentations to compete for a spot in the final round. All semifinalists then will receive additional mentorship and boot camp sessions. The competition will culminate in a Pitch Day competition at the Broadway Theater in downtown Rock Springs Sept. 13.
Seed funding will be provided to the winning companies, made possible by State Bank and Commerce Bank of Wyoming.
Here are the semifinalists, listed by the applicants’ names:
Laurie Carollo, Nick Walrath, Pete Rust, Stacey Dolinar, James Chaves, Aaron Slaton, Megan McComas and Chelsie Naylor — Wild Sage Market is a Green River food co-op; www.wildsagegreenriver.com/.
Dylan Covington — A woodworker focusing on custom cabinetry and built-ins.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” de’Medici — Sweetwater Sage is a cruelty-free, vegan, handmade soap business; www.sweetwater-sage.com/.
Amanda Finch — She leads a functional nutritionist business that also provides light therapy and physical training.
Cody and Brittany Gray — The Grays are developing an innovative solution to improve the safety of recreational vehicles.
Justin Hood — Wyoming Apparatus is a company that tests and repairs emergency vehicles and fire trucks to keep them in compliance and working properly; www.wyomingapparatus.com/.
Amber Marie Hunt and Joseph Skimehorn — They are leading a company to develop skin art products that have less of a chance of inducing allergic reactions.
Melinda “Mindy” and Glen Reddon — The Reddons are starting a meat processing facility in Farson.
Braids Roberts and Joshua Dulaney — They are developing new wood pellets that burn cleaner and more efficiently.
The four additional companies chosen to attend the boot camp are:
Susie Anastos — She started an indoor children’s playland in Green River; www.ggplayland.com/.
Joaquin and Rosaura Barrera — Great Microgreens is a local microgreen company; www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100081954505475.
Mark Branson — He has a local rescue shelter for fish; www.facebook.com/ugliestIvan.
Erik Hamm and Lori Kizzire — They are starting a company to livestream local events.