Thursday, October 24th, students from the University of Wyoming participated in the fourth annual Fisher Innovation Launchpad Pitch Day. This program was created to empower students to create their own opportunities within the region. The Fisher Innovation Launchpad (FIL) is an entrepreneurship program on UW's campus that allows students to compete for a $125,000 seed fund - a privately funded donation from Donne and Sue Fisher. FIL has helped UW students launch 24 companies, create more than 40 jobs to date, and is projected to launch as many as 10 more in the future.
Fred Schmechel, the Assistant Director for Wyoming Technology Business Center, shared, "southeast Wyoming is a strong region for entrepreneurship, we are seeing they are very hungry for it. Programs such as this are creating small companies that are helping us keep the young people here rather than having them go to Colorado or other surrounding states to find employment. It is helping them make their own opportunities."
Schmechel explained that while FIL is for UW students, the Southeast Wyoming Innovation Launchpad (SEWYIL) is a platform for individuals in Albany and Laramie Counties to receive business counseling and financial assistance in starting their ventures. This model supports entrepreneurial diversity and helps companies come together using a lean launchpad format. SEWYIL is a similar seed fund and is privately funded that will help create entrepreneurial companies in Albany and Laramie County and is open for applications until November 1st. APPLY HERE
Sam Weinstein, Strategic Coordinator for Forward Greater Cheyenne's Cheyenne Center for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (C2E2), attended the event and commented on the program's economic potential within the region. He shared, "[these companies] could be huge game changers in expanding what our current economic outlook is and increasing diversity in the economy...I think encouraging companies to come forward with the incentive of seed money really encourages someone to take that leap of faith to go out and create a product or service that can be beneficial for the community."
C2E2 is focused on entrepreneurial development and resources for Laramie County. The partnership between Forward Greater Cheyenne with The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, as the lead implementer, and also the University of Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) is one way that the community is looking to address this objective. The goal of this project is to develop an environment for entrepreneurship through purposeful investments, programs, and policies that support and encourage small business formation and development. Weinstein explained that the C2E2 initiative acts as an entrepreneurial support system.
The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce consistently advocates to help existing businesses overcome local barriers to growth and expansion. Through C2E2 programming the Chamber has been successful in providing the necessary assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses with strategic partnerships.
Congratulations Fisher Innovation Launchpad
Pitch Competition Winners:
Fitter - Founded by Marcus Cantu
JarrowTech - Founded by Carlton Wilcox and James Schuchardt
SLD Photonics - Founded by Joseph Murphy, Subash Kattel, and William Rice
VosoKey - Founded by Matthew Poremba
CellSight - Founded by Hayden Moritz
Computherap - Founded by Mohammad Mehri
Kopia - Founded by Connor Leyshon, Kevin Medders, and Christopher Bruce