Six teams pitched their business ideas May 22 in the hope of receiving part of the Wind River Startup Challenge’s $30,000 seed fund. Five of the competitors each walked away with a piece of the pie.
The Wind River Startup Challenge is a collaboration among the University of Wyoming’s Office of Research and Economic Development, including IMPACT 307 and the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network; Central Wyoming College; and the Wind River Indian Reservation’s two sovereign nations, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.
The five winning teams were:
— Native FX Art and Design, Eustace Day — custom art designs that include T-shirts, logos, signs and murals.
— Timber Beast, Eugene Coulston — manages natural resources while producing local timber products.
— Dancing Rain Consulting, Harmony Spoonhunter — digitizing records, creating websites and providing data management for businesses and tribal programs.
— Goose’s Kitchen, Leslie Spoonhunter — a food truck with a rotating menu of high-quality and Indigenous dishes.
— The Monahooboo Hut, Hannah Nicol — a food trailer featuring comfort food and specializing in chicken fried steak.
“I’ve never done a business pitch, let alone know how to properly run a business. But in the experience, I gained so much knowledge in the business side of things, and I’m going to apply it to my business to be running a big, Native-owned sawmill,” Coulston says.
The challenge was launched as part of a grant received by Wyoming’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research at UW and funded by the National Science Foundation.