Student Teams Win UW Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition Awards

Teams of student entrepreneurs won prizes to advance their business ideas during the recent 24th annual John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition (EEC) at the University of Wyoming.

The College of Business competition encourages students to act on their talents, ideas, and energy to produce tomorrow’s leading businesses.

Teams were eligible to receive funding from the endowed prize ($50,000), the Top Submission Awards (three categories), and the High School Choice Award. Additionally, during the college’s SparkTank event April 25, three other awards were provided: the Ethical Startup Award, the Jon Benson Award for Best Ability to Positively Impact Wyoming, and the $50K EEC Winner Spotlight Presentation Award.

The John P. Ellbogen Endowed Fund winners are:

A man and a woman with light brown skin standing behind a black plaque that reads "Fina Custom Work: Your vision, our craft". The woman has long wavy black hair with the tips dyed brown and the man has very short hair and stubble.
Ana Acevedo, right, and Jesus Acevedo, left, won the grand prize in UW’s 24th annual John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition for their business, FINA Custom Work. Photo by Caleb Cockrum.
  • Grand prize winner of $25,000: FINA Custom Work, a veteran-owned, Wyoming-based tactical gear company motivated to diversify the local economy and committed to the safety, security, and effectiveness of products for customers. FINA Custom Work is led by UW senior marketing and sales major Ana Acevedo, of Laramie. She is joined by her team member and spouse, Army National Guard Sgt. Jesus Acevedo, of Laramie.
  • Second winner of endowed prize funds ($12,500): MayPall, an oral health company that is developing an efficacious and safe-to-swallow mouthwash to prevent children’s cavities. MayPall is led by UW freshman business management major Leo Gomelsky, of Laramie. Other members are UW sophomore molecular biology major and pre-dental student Lucas Wall, of Laramie; and Mark Gomelsky, a professor of molecular biology at UW.
  • Third winner of endowed prize funds ($12,500): Power Theory Inc., a multifaceted team focused on empowering clients and communities to optimize energy resources and streamline operations through cutting-edge software and design. Power Theory Inc. is led by recent MBA graduate and current UW computer science graduate student Luke Macy, of Cheyenne. Other members are UW junior entrepreneurship major Isaac Almejo-Ponce, of Riverton; junior architectural engineering major Erik Rivera, of Bondurant; sophomore economics major Katie Fisher, of Riverton; and business analyst and recent UW MBA energy management graduate SungHa Kim, of Seoul, South Korea.

Top Submission Awards winners are:

Three young people in formal wear standing behind a white and blue plaque that reads "Power Theory". On the left, a woman with light skin and wavy blonde hair slightly beyond her shoulders. In the middle, a man with light skin and short blonde hair. On the right, a tall man with light brown skin, glasses, and short black hair.
From left to right, UW students Katie Fisher, Luke Macy, and Erik Rivera of Power Theory Inc. won the third prize in the 2024 John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. Photo by Caleb Cockrum.
  • Top Submission, Community College Team ($1,250): Southern Soul Kitchen, a family-owned and operated soul food restaurant specializing in the juiciest and crispiest hand-battered fried chicken. Southern Soul Kitchen is led by Laramie County Community College sophomore entrepreneurship major Evelyn Rodriguez, from Cuba.
  • Top Submission, Female Entrepreneur ($1,000): UniquiClay Creative Studio will provide access through clay distribution, sale of artists’ work and studio space for people to experience the unpredictable beauty of ceramics with no expectation of perfection. UniquiClay Creative Studio is led by Casper College freshman entrepreneurship major Susan Noah, from Casper.
  • Top Submission, Social Enterprise ($1,000): Wyoming Rail Yard, a skiing and snowboarding event business that hosts “Rail Jams.” Wyoming Rail Yard is led by UW senior entrepreneurship major Dayton Hammel, of Parker, Colo.

High School Choice Award winners are:

  • High School Choice Award ($1,250): Power Theory Inc.

Awards Presented at SparkTank:

Three men giving a presentation. On the left, a young white man with short wavy brown hair. In the middle, a young man with tan skin and short very black straight hair. On the right, an older man with gray wavy hair, a beard, and glasses.
From left, Lucas Wall, Leo Gomelsky, and Mark Gomelsky, of MayPall, present at the 2024 John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition. Photo by Caleb Cockrum.
  • Jon Benson Award for Best Ability to Positively Impact Wyoming ($2,500): MayPall.
  • Ethical Startup Award ($2,500): O3, which enhances small businesses through artificial intelligence and modern technologies to boost relevance and longevity. O3 is led by UW senior entrepreneurship major and blockchain minor Dalton Gregory, from Sheridan.
  • $50k EEC Winner Spotlight Presentation Award ($5,000 split by audience vote): $3,400 went to MayPall, and $1,600 went to FINA Custom Work.

Students wishing to compete in the 2024-25 John P. Ellbogen $50K Entrepreneurship Competition may email project coordinator Josie Voight for more information at

This story was originally published on UW News.

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