SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Wyoming Technology Business Center director John Dick announced the finalists for the WTBC’s Sheridan Start-up Challenge in March.
Dick said nearly 70 submissions were received for the challenge that gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to access seed money and work with mentors.
The entries covered 14 industries and included everything from software to food trucks. Submissions came from high school and college students along with current business owners. They came from Sheridan natives and individuals who have lived in the community less than one year.
The five finalists still working with the WTBC are:
• K-Drive — Justin Koltiska’s patent-pending oil field tool.
• Oatware — Anne Gunn’s and Mark Thoney’s portfolio of three software-as-a-service web applications.
• Ajayi Global Enterprises — Olalekan Ajayi’s web-based platform that provides patients with metastatic cancer access to clinical trial resources.
• Shelton Enterprieses — Rick Shelton’s patented water drill technology that is used to thaw frozen water pipes.
• Old Army Records — Kevin O’Dell’s and Jim Powers’ web-based ancestry software focused on military history.
The five finalists will work with Dick up until May 23, when the finalists will pitch their businesses to a panel of judges during a public event.
Of the five finalists, three will be awarded $5,000. Those three will also be provided space in the WTBC incubator and have access to a $50,000 seed fund.
Over the next few weeks, The Press will take a closer look at each of the finalists with a question-and-answer style interview.
This week, we asked Shelton Enterprises for some insight.
What sparked the idea for this business?
Rick Shelton incurred this problem years ago and began working on a viable solution. In time, he finally came up with a working prototype, and in 2011 applied for and was granted a utility patent. For the last several years, Shelton has used the water drill he invented and patented to thaw frozen pipes, both water and drain lines, for a variety of customers.
How long have you been working on the idea?
Approximately 10 years
Have you ever started a business before?
Yes, one that focused on tree service and snow removal.
What is the product or service your business will provide?
The RS Water Drill is used to thaw frozen water lines which frequently occur in the northern U.S. and Canada. The lack of a safe, timely and inexpensive solution to thaw external frozen water lines has traditionally been a problem. The machine utilizes heated water supplied under pressure in a tube that is inserted inside the frozen plastic or metal pipe.
The pressurized hot water melts the ice, and the melted water is returned to the machine to be reheated and recirculated. The RS Water Drill will effectively, economically and safely thaw all water lines — regardless of kind and size.
It is a self-contained machine needing only one person, some water and an electrical source to operate it. It is designed for ease of operation and maintenance. Its compact design on wheels enables it to be moved easily, even up and down stairs.
It truly is a viable solution to what has traditionally been a problem — frozen water lines.
What are you hoping to achieve by working with the Start-Up Challenge?
Establish a business, finalize development of the machine and produce, market and sell the machine.
Are you working on your own? Or with a team?
With a team made up of Shelton, Christina Stanley, Douglas and Andrea Madison
What challenges have you already experienced and what challenges do you see coming next?
Just getting started is the biggest challenge. The challenges coming next are the final development of the machine, and producing, marketing and selling the machine.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs considering taking the leap into starting a new business?
Enter the Sheridan Start-Up Challenge and/or contact John Dick, director for the Sheridan area for the Wyoming Technology Business Center.