Five Finalists Chosen for Energy Capital Start-Up Challenge Pitch … – University of Wyoming News

IMPACT 307, Wyoming’s business incubator network, has chosen five finalists for the
Energy Capital Start-Up Challenge entrepreneur competition.

Finalists will make their presentations at Pitch Night beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday,
Dec. 12, at the Gillette College main building presentation hall. Each finalist has
an opportunity to win business funding from the seed fund established for the event.
The public is invited, and attendance is free.

IMPACT 307, with business incubators in various cities around the state, is a business
development program of the University of Wyoming. It is a not-for-profit business
incubator system that provides startup and early-stage companies with the expertise,
networks and tools necessary for the development of successful businesses. It is administered
by UW’s Research and Economic Development Division.

“We’ve had great enthusiasm and solid community backing to launch this first Energy
Capital Start-Up Challenge,” says Scot Rendall, IMPACT Sheridan director. “It’s helped
to cultivate the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we look forward to making it
an annual event.”

The following is a summary of the finalists, including the company names, the entrepreneurs
and their business ideas:

— Ag Innovations, founded by Shondah and Randall Otwell, is the creator of a low-power,
water-rippling product that keeps stock tank water open for livestock in extreme winter
temperatures to support ranching and agriculture industries.

— Baldacci Guitars, founded by Conner Baldacci, is a startup manufacturer of high-quality,
custom electric guitars that allow guitar players and tour artists to achieve a range
of sounds without having to swap out different guitars.

— Inflatrix Dental Innovations, founded by Mark Thoreson, is the developer of a high-tech,
polymer inflatable device used by dentists to make the placement of dental fillings
simpler, more efficient and more comfortable.

— Rather Be Fishing Tackle, founded by Ray Bergeman, is the developer of a fishing
device that helps attract fish and get them feeding, increasing the chances of getting
bites and catching more fish during outings.

— Wind Turbine Blade Recycling, founded by Cameron and Jess Anderson, is a company
that will recycle wind turbine blades that have reached end of life and produce usable
materials as an alternative to landfill disposal.

The Energy Capital Start-Up Challenge attracted 36 applicants who represent a wide
variety of business ideas that seek to operate in Gillette and the northeast Wyoming
region. A judging panel — made up of area entrepreneurs and local professional service
providers — reviewed the applications and selected nine plans for a semifinal round
that was held Nov. 10. The semifinalists had an opportunity to present their ideas
and meet the judges in person. The five finalists were then selected by the panel.

The finalists will spend the next month working with IMPACT 307 and Energy Capital
Economic Development to continue development of their plans and respond to judges’
questions and feedback that were provided during the semifinal round. In addition
to the possibility of seed funding, Pitch Night will allow the finalists to showcase
and promote their ideas to a live audience.

IMPACT 307 has partnered with Energy Capital Economic Development and the Gillette
FUEL Business Incubator Program to bring this entrepreneur competition to northeast

Energy Capital Economic Development is a nonprofit corporation with a mission to stimulate
and facilitate a diverse economy through business retention, expansion and recruitment.
The corporation runs the Gillette FUEL Business Incubator Program that assists entrepreneurs
to start, run and grow small businesses.

“Our local judging panel was pleased with the number of quality business ideas and
plans submitted,” says Dana Miller, a member of Energy Capital Economic Development
Board. “As these new ventures launch, there will be solid benefits to our area’s economy.”

For more information, call Rendall at (307) 675-1939 or email


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