March 20, 2015
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Sheridan recently had some exciting news with the Wyoming Technology Business Center taking over management of our business incubator.

In this edition, we profile the approach of this new management and the resources of Sheridan's incubator.

I encourage you to to others in the community who might find it useful and join the mailing list for future issues.

Welcome home, Sheridan!
- Mayor John Heath
Business Incubation Under New Management
Sheridan's Business Incubator, opened in 2010, recently came under the management of the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC). The WTBC is a business development program affiliated with the University of Wyoming, and this issue will provide insight into the WTBC's approach to business incubation and the specifics of Sheridan's business incubator.
Growing Business From The Ground Up
The WTBC mission is to improve the entrepreneurial climate in Wyoming through the management of business incubators. These business incubators bring together entrepreneurs with business consultants that work one-on-one to help the business focus on achieving goals at each stage of growth. The WTBC operates incubators in Laramie (2006), Casper (2013) and Sheridan (2015).

Since beginning operation in 2006, the WTBC has had five companies graduate from its business incubators. One of the most notable success stories is Firehole Technologies - a graduate of the Laramie incubator - which was acquired by Autodesk in 2013 for an undisclosed sum in the $10-$40 million range. What made this even more of a success story is that Firehole Technologies became a new branch of Autodesk, meaning that the jobs created in the Laramie economy stayed there.
What Is Business Incubation?
In contrast to some business incubator programs, the WTBC places a large emphasis on starting with companies in the "pre-venture" stage - meaning the entrepreneur has a business idea, but the business itself isn't yet formed.

The WTBC considers success to be moving entrepreneurial innovation into a stable business model, recognizing that the success of entrepreneurs has a multiplying benefit on the community. Successful entrepreneurs often become mentors to other budding innovators, meaning that the return on investment from successful business incubation ripples through the local community. That is why the WTBC utilizes certain target criteria in selecting businesses for incubation.  The WTBC is looking for companies with the potential for high growth, achieving a worth of $3-5 million with 10-20% profit margins, and employing a workforce of 20-25 people.

WTBC places value on entrepreneurs who want to build a business around an innovative idea. By promoting innovation, successful business incubation helps expand Wyoming's economy into new sectors. Focusing on high-growth businesses means that success will have a more significant impact to the economy.

Although the WTBC emphasizes these target aspects, John Dick, manager of the Sheridan Area for WTBC, is willing to speak with anyone about a business idea. The business incubator may not always be the best resource for potential ideas, but the WTBC is familiar with a number of business development resources. Even if the incubator is not the most suitable option, WTBC staff can often help put businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in touch with the best resources to help them take action on their ideas.

Business incubator staff provide a startup business with daily, one-on-one consultation. WTBC's consultants are business process people with expertise in the various stages of business growth. Drawing on this expertise, the incubator helps the entrepreneur capitalize on his or her asset - the product - helping the business focus on crucial factors of each growth stage.

Sheridan's Business Incubator
Sheridan's business incubator began with Sheridan County receiving a grant for its creation from the Wyoming Business Council. Initially managed in partnership with Forward Sheridan, in 2014 the County recognized the opportunity to contract with the WTBC to bring their proven approach to incubator management to the community. The City of Sheridan was able to contribute support funding. While the incubator would represent a new role for WTBC in Sheridan, the organization had already been promoting entrepreneurial endeavors in the area since 2009 through the e2e program. This program helps connect entrepreneurs with other entrepreneurs and business service providers.

Sheridan County and the University of Wyoming signed an agreement in November 2014, and WTBC took over management of the incubator on February 1, 2015.

The incubator currently houses four businesses that began at the location under Forward Sheridan. As WTBC continues to grow contacts in the community and takes on target businesses, the current location will likely hold a total of 7-8 businesses.

Have An Idea?
If you have an entrepreneurial idea or are interested in learning more about Sheridan's Business Center, please contact John Dick - director of the incubator and WTBC - Sheridan Area.

For more information about the the transfer of the business incubator or the WTBC in general: