(Wind River Reservation, WY) – The Wind River Startup Challenge, a regional entrepreneurship opportunity designed to distribute thousands of dollars to Native-owned startups, received significantly more applications this year than last, from both Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho entrepreneurs. 8 teams are moving from the semifinal round to the final round of the Wind River Startup Challenge.
“We have been very encouraged to see the increase in applications and the wide variety of the business concepts this year for the Wind River Startup Challenge, even in the midst of COVID-19,” says Dr. David Bohling, Director of Impact 307 Laramie. “With help from Central Wyoming College and the Wyoming SBDC, we find it gratifying to assist these entrepreneurs in their efforts in trying to start or grow their businesses.”
Wyoming EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), Impact 307, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC), Central Wyoming College, and UW’s High Plains American Indian Research Institute all support the Wind River Startup Challenge. These partners will continue to guide and mentor the entrepreneurs through Final Pitch Day that will be held in late May. Along with the seed funding, winners will receive ongoing support as their business ideas develop into real startups.
“Entrepreneurship is much needed on the Wind River Indian Reservation and seeing these great ideas come to fruition through the workshops from an idea to a business plan makes it closer to a reality for the finalists,” says Dr. Tarissa Spoonhunter, a professor at Central Wyoming College who teaches Nation Building economic concepts in the new Bachelor of Applied Science Tribal Leadership Option. “Economic Development is starting to expand beyond tribally owned businesses to citizen entrepreneurs thanks to the WRSC.”
The 8 finalists include:
— Dancing Rain Consulting, founded by Harmony Spoonhunter, which seeks to create ease and convenience by digitizing records, creating websites, and providing data management on the Wind River Reservation.
— Goose’s Kitchen, created by Chef Leslie Spoonhunter, is a food truck showcasing Leslie’s culinary skills in creating indigenous dishes and will provide a rotating menu.
— Cammi’s Tire & Service, established by Cameron Enos, will be a mechanic and tire shop on the reservation.
— Bull Lake Construction, owned and managed by Tiffany Day and James St. Clair, gives Wind River residents outstanding service and a fair price for their construction needs.
— Timber Beast, owned and operated by Eugene Coulston, is a company that produces local timber products.
— Native FX Art and Design, launched by Eustace Day, produces a wide variety of custom art designs that include t-shirts, logos, signs, and murals.
— SEMAJ, devised by Bobbi Shongutsie and Austin Hill, will be a grower of high-value crops.
— The Monahooboo Hut, conceived by Hannah Nicol, is a food trailer that specializes in chicken fried steak.
The finalists will have a chance to pitch their business models to an independent panel of judges on the final pitch day in late May. The event will be open to the public.
ICYMI: Check out the winners of the 2020 Wind River Startup Challenge in our previous post here.