UA-27956762-2

e2e Wyoming

Award Category: Leadership and Collaboration
Project Site: Wyoming Technology Business Center
Submitted By: University of Wyoming
Contact: Christine Langley
307.766.9461

Abstract

e2e is an educational networking program with chapters across Wyoming, in Laramie, Sheridan, Gillette, and Casper. The events are designed to improve the climate for the start-up and growth of entrepreneurial companies. Five meetings are held each year at each location where entrepreneurs meet with their business peers and service providers.  Attendees range from students interested in entrepreneurship to well established community leaders and entrepreneurs.  Each e2e event begins with forty-five minutes of networking, followed by a forty-five minute presentation given by a successful entrepreneur or industry expert. Previous speakers have included industry-leading presenters such as the Vice President of Marketing for the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team, the Chief Scientist for Search Optimization of Yahoo!, and numerous venture capitalists. Occasionally, speakers have been leaders of successful local companies that are better able to speak on the challenges of the Wyoming business economy. e2e events have been the catalyst for starting multiple companies, and has created a business environment of collaboration and openness that did not exist in Wyoming before the first e2e event.

Case Study

Problem/Background

Wyoming experienced the same technology boom in the late 90’s as the rest of the United States, with the only real difference being that nothing happened. Wyoming’s overdependence on the extraction of minerals from its abundant supply forced the state to sit out one of the most wildly successful times in US economic history. The state learned that it is crucial for Wyoming to take a proactive stance when it comes to growing the economy.  Additionally, Wyoming faces the problem that its highly educated young population tends to leave the state due to a lack of diversity in employment opportunities.

Solution

Because urban areas are few and far between in the state of Wyoming, it is imperative that an organization exists to bring people, resources, and ideas together. e2e is the first successful business networking and educational program in Wyoming. Taking a statewide proactive approach to grassroots economic development is a first, and necessary step for the state. By bringing in high-caliber, globally recognized speakers to local events, the WTBC is able to stimulate our attendees’ innovative and unique business concepts, and effectively diversify the economy of the state of Wyoming.

e2e is an ongoing educational networking program with chapters across Wyoming, in Laramie, Sheridan, Gillette, and Casper. The events are designed to improve the climate for the start-up and growth of entrepreneurial companies. Five meetings are held each year at each location where entrepreneurs meet with their business peers and professional service providers. The relaxed atmosphere provides community entrepreneurs the opportunity to come together and discuss entrepreneurship with each other. This allows the opportunity for new ideas to spark between the local entrepreneurs.  The WTBC also acts as a matchmaker, pairing entrepreneurs to their needs, and for new ideas to be sparked by listening to the story of a successful entrepreneur.

Diversifying Wyoming’s economy starts with a diverse crowd at e2e. Attendees range from students interested in entrepreneurship to well established community leaders and entrepreneurs.  Each e2e event begins with forty-five minutes of networking, followed by a forty-five minute presentation given by a successful entrepreneur or industry expert. Previous speakers have included industry-leading presenters such as the Vice President of Marketing for the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team, the Chief Scientist for Search Optimization of Yahoo!, and numerous venture capitalists. Occasionally, speakers have been leaders of successful local companies who are better able to speak on the challenges of the Wyoming business economy. e2e events have been the catalyst for starting multiple companies, and the program has created a business environment of collaboration and openness that did not exist in Wyoming before the first e2e event.

Each year e2e builds up to an annual conference with a specific topic such as energy or bioscience.  These two-day conferences allow for a fuller discussion on the topic with multiple panels of expert speakers. The e2e Annual Conference is well attended and has proven to be a great source for incubator clients.

Results

The benefits of e2e are clearly measured by the collaborations and deals that have been formed as a direct result of the program. e2e has not only sparked the formation of multiple start-ups, but has helped existing companies to grow and form new partnerships. The WTBC has also benefitted from these events, and has been able to gain new incubator and outreach clients from our regular e2e programs.

We can expect e2e to continue making an impact not only because we have seen these collaborative results, but also because we are continually gaining support from our speakers. It is not uncommon for a speaker to recommend additional high-quality speakers for upcoming events, which help us to promote the program across the state. Developing relationships with our speakers and becoming familiar with their networks has lead to venture capital opportunities between our attendees and a number of our speakers.

Future Considerations

e2e programs have proven to be highly scalable, replicable, and sustainable as we have expanded the program to other venues across the state. The success of the events and diversity of attendees have been the stimuli that have allowed for expansion into Gillette and Casper.

While e2e brings in attendees from many different communities, each venue tends to have a prominent group. e2e Laramie brings in a large numbers of students and academic professionals, while a community such as Gillette is heavy in blue collar workers. Despite these differences, the desire to diversify Wyoming’s economy is a statewide goal, which allows our e2e programming to flourish in all of our communities with minimal modifications. The basic and adaptable model for e2e has allowed the program to be easily replicated in multiple towns in Wyoming, and shows potential for other states as well.

e2e is a developing program, with plans being made to increase local involvement in the organization of these events. High on our list of priorities is the development of an advisory board in each chapter that ensures the sustainability of the local program. Showing the value of e2e to local businesses has already established sponsorships that will allow the program to continue and grow in the future.


Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Pittsburgh on October 28, 2013. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.

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