$50K awarded to Native entrepreneurs at 2023 Wind River Startup Challenge Pitch Day Tuesday evening

    (Wind River Reservation, WY) – The 4th annual Wind River Startup Challenge Pitch Day took place at the Frank B. Wise Business Center in Fort Washakie Tuesday, May 17, where $50,000 was awarded to eight different businesses located on the Wind River Reservation.

    2023 Wind River Startup Challenge. h/t Vince Tropea

    The Wind River Startup Challenge is a platform for Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribal and community members to launch businesses and compete for seed funding (Participants in the Wind River Startup Challenge must be an enrolled Northern Arapaho or Eastern Shoshone, or teams must be at least 50% owned, operated, or led by a Tribal member).

    This year’s participants have received business counseling and mentorship through the program for the past few months after finding out they secured a finalist spot, and the overwhelming sense of communal support between each business was palpable Tuesday evening as each team cheered for each other during the pitches and when the final awards were announced.


    Tasked with the difficult role of judging this year were Lisa McCart, Erika Warren-Yarber and Ivan Posey.

    2023 judges: Lisa McCart, Erika Warren-Yarber and Ivan Posey.h/t Vince Tropea

    Below are the finalists and business descriptions, along with how much seed funding each was awarded.

    • Fire and Ice 
    Robin Manderson and Cheryl White Bull with Fire and Ice. h/t Vince Tropea

    Fire and Ice is a mobile concession business run by Robin Manderson and Cheryl White Bull that sells treats such as snow cones and piccadilly at community events. They specialize in creative and custom flavor combinations and fun, fresh, homemade ingredients and toppings.

    Fire and Ice was awarded $3,000.

    • White Eagle Tire Service
    Pat White Jr. with White Eagle Tire Service. h/t Vince Tropea

    White Eagle Tire Service, located in Ethete, is run by Pat White Jr., and is the place for friendly, affordable, and professional tire repair. 

    White Eagle Tire Service was awarded $3,000.

    • Concrete Kingz
    RV Hereford Jr. of Concrete Kingz. h/t Vince Tropea

    Concrete Kingz is a concrete service run by RV Hereford Jr. that does work with sidewalks and slabs, to footers and foundations. Concrete Kingz is there to conquer all your concrete needs.


    Concrete Kingz was awarded $12,000.

    • Red Wolf Designs
    Lisa Redman of Red Wolf Designs. h/t Vince Tropea

    Red Wolf Designs is a custom quilting business run by Lisa Redman that provides unique and professionally crafted quilts for special occasions, gifts and ceremonies. They offer a wide range of designs, color combinations and fabric for each customer’s specific needs.

    Red Wolf Designs was awarded $12,000.

    • 2 Indigenous Hands
    h/t Vince Tropea

    2 Indigenous Hands is a retail craft supply store run by Courtney Smith, to be located in Riverton, that will carry a modern collection of supplies for beaders, quilters and other artisans. They will also support indigenous artisans by selling their work in the retail shop.

    2 Indigenous Hands was awarded $7,000.

    • Indigi-Meals Pro
    Kacey Makeshine of Indigi-Meals Pro. h/t Vince Tropea

    Indigi-Meals Pro is run by Kacy Makeshine and Deynse Ute, and offers delicious, nutritious, ready to eat meals delivered to your home or office with fresh new options every week.

    Indigi-Meals Pro was awarded $5,000.

    • Warm Valley Smoke Wagon
    Jacoby Hereford Sr. of Warm Valley Smoke Wagon. h/t Vince Tropea

    Warm Valley Smoke Wagon, run by Jacoby Hereford Sr., offers home cooked flavor with fast food convenience, and brings smoked brisket to Fremont County (and beyond) through their mobile food trailer. 

    Warm Valley Smoke Wagon was awarded $5,000.

    • RezLaw
    Ted Thayer of RezLaw. h/t Vince Tropea

    RezLaw, run by Ted Thayer, a Native owned legal aid provider offering legal advice, services, and representation for criminal cases on the Wind River Reservation.

    Congratulations all of this year’s participants, and good luck with your businesses!

    Click here to read about last year’s winners.

    The Wind River Start-Up Challenge (WRSC) began as a joint endeavor of the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the University of Wyoming Office for Research and Economic Development. The Wind River Start-Up Challenge is for new ventures created and managed by tribal members and includes new ventures launched by licensing university technology. Tribal members are expected to have a primary role in developing the business and must intend to operate the business in the Wind River Community Area. For its first three years, WRSC has been a collaboration between Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members, Central Wyoming College, the Wind River Development Fund, and several University of Wyoming units: IMPACT 307, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Wyoming EPSCoR, and the High Plains American Indian Research Institute (HPAIRI). Funding for this challenge comes from National Science Foundation-funded Wyoming EPSCoR, a grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business program, and Microsoft.


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