Our community has a tremendous resource for entrepreneurs wishing to start up their own business — the Wyoming Technology Business Center, Sheridan’s business incubator.
The WTBC has a stated mission to lead the advancement of Wyoming’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing resources and expertise that will increase the chances of launching a successful venture.
I have been the director of the Sheridan WTBC for a little more than two years now. I find many business owners that are aware of our program, but I still run into some folks who have an entrepreneurial “itch” but do not know how we can help them.
So what exactly does the WTBC provide? We have a program for developing new businesses that has been tuned and perfected over the last 15 years. Originally started in Laramie, the WTBC has expanded to include incubators in Casper and Sheridan. As units of the University of Wyoming, we have access to resources and expertise that most entrepreneurs would have difficulty finding on their own. Our advising services are provided free of charge to entrepreneurs.
The program includes regular meetings to discuss business ideas and helping to validate a value proposition — the benefits that customers will receive from purchasing a product or service and the reasons why they’ll opt for the proposed idea relative to other competitive or alternative offerings. We have access to the latest market research and can help find a product or service niche that has the best chance to succeed.
Beyond WTBC advising services, we have access to outside professional services that can be of great benefit to an entrepreneur. Does the idea involve the protection of intellectual property? We can connect founders with IP experts, both within the university and private attorneys. Need some marketing or accounting help? We have relationships with these and other professional service providers.
In Sheridan, we are fortunate to have an incubator facility that provides entrepreneurs the opportunity to access office space and conferencing capability. With other start-up businesses in the building, there is the opportunity to connect and leverage the experiences of others trying to launch a venture. We currently have space available, as well.
One common need of most entrepreneurs is access to capital. The Sheridan Start-Up Challenge meets the needs of those with compelling business plans that are willing to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of entrepreneur judges. For the 2019 Challenge, $65,000 in seed capital was distributed to three winners of the competition. Working with the WTBC will provide a “leg up” for being prepared when the Challenge application period kicks off in mid-August.
Finally, our program is viewed as a critical element of achieving economic diversification in the state of Wyoming. Developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem is a strategic statewide priority. Sheridan is fortunate to have direct link to entrepreneurial support via the WTBC.
The program is made possible through local financial commitments from the city of Sheridan and Sheridan County in addition to support from the Wyoming Business Council and the university. All Sheridan entrepreneurs should consider taking advantage of this wonderful resource.
Scot Rendall is director of Wyoming Technology Business Center in the Sheridan area.