Column: Great ideas from six Sheridan Start-Up Challenge finalists

IMPACT Sheridan is in the home stretch of the 2022 Sheridan Start-Up Challenge. Earlier this month, our community judge panel selected six finalists to progress to Pitch Night for the opportunity to access a share of the $100,000 seed fund if they are named a winner.

The current competition has produced another group of very intriguing plans, and we’ll share a few details below.

There was a tremendous response to the call for applications this year. IMPACT received 61 applicants, a 50% increase over 2021 and the highest number of the last five years. Sheridan continues to be a state leader in local entrepreneurs wanting to initiate new businesses. From the initial applicant pool, 12 semifinalists were chosen, and each presented a brief overview of their plan, with a question-and-answer period. Difficult choices were made, and the judge cut to six finalists was complete.

Five of this year’s finalists outlined product-based business plans, and three of the five have ideas that showcase Wyoming’s active, outdoor lifestyle.

The first one of these is a semiautomatic fly reel. More commonly found in Europe, the founders of this company are developing a semiauto in northern Wyoming that will introduce some new features not currently found on any such reel.

Second, we have an inventor in Sheridan that has developed a trailer hitch solution that eliminates rattle and play coming from towing hardware on vehicles and trailers. People that frequently tow trailers will be quite excited to learn more about his solution.

We have a ranching family that has developed an equine massage tool that can be used by owners to relieve muscle soreness in horses. Though all horses will benefit, the target market for this innovative device is performance horses across a wide variety of events: rodeo, racing and show horse exhibitions.

For the second year in a row, we have an entry from Buffalo High School presenting at Pitch Night. Two young ladies from Buffalo have come up with a series of games that provide safe and legal entertainment for high-schoolers and young adults living in small towns.

The last entrant of product-based plans is an entrepreneur that endeavors to develop an Italian bakery that will produce both sweet and savory food items for our local area and the northern Rocky Mountain region.

The one service-based plan is from a nurse practitioner that will be launching a direct primary care medical practice that will focus on healthy lifestyles and timely access to care. Though it will be launched in Sheridan County, she has plans to expand her business to include many underserved areas across our state.

It’s quite a line up and great recognition for these hardworking, creative entrepreneurs. The Sheridan community won’t want to miss the Pitch Night final presentations, Nov. 1, 5:30 p.m. at the WYO Theater. Attendance at the event is free of charge and all are welcome. For those unable to attend in person at the WYO, a livestream link will be available.

Scot Rendall is director of IMPACT 307 in the Sheridan area.

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