By Baylie Evans, Writer

February 5, 2019


Casper tech company and Kickstart grantee aims to shake up energy industry

Kickstart and SBIR grants

In Spring 2018, the Wyoming passed legislation that empowered the Business Council to find a better way to support high-growth potential companies in the state. 

The Business Council created two new grant programs to serve startups with high-growth potential who have 
a globally-differentiated concept 
• a scalable product and business model 
• a defined value proposition 
• a large target addressable market  
• potential for exit via initial public offering or acquisition 

These new programs are one part of a broader effort by the Business Council and its statewide partners to serve every entrepreneur as effectively as possible and increase Wyoming's prosperity. 

Kickstart: Wyoming grants are $5,000-$50,000 awarded to Wyoming startups with high-growth potential and fewer than 50 employees. 

SBIR Phase I and II Matching Program provides $70,000 to $200,000 in matching funds for Wyoming companies that receive federal funds through the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer programs. 

Applications for both programs are evaluated monthly. 

Get all the nitty-gritty here.

Wyoming startup Disa is shaking up the energy industry. 

“We're a new, innovative material liberation and separation company,” co-founder John Lee said. 

Lee and his co-founder, Greyson Buckingham, have developed a novel technology to allow energy and mining companies to improve efficiency, lower costs and reduce waste.  

“The mining and reclamation industry hasn’t changed for over 100 years,” Lee said. “We're hoping to shatter the status quo with Disa. We're looking to disrupt traditional comminution technologies that are only 2-3 percent efficient and consume approximately 4 percent of total global energy.” 

Disa was awarded a Kickstart:Wyoming grant in the program’s very first grant cycle last December. 

The grant money allows Disa to purchase equipment for testing and scaling its technology. For example, it purchased an x-ray fluorescent machine that allows them to test materials on site and receive instant verification and results; previously, Disa had to wait several weeks to receive results from a lab.


Proving the technology 
on a commercial scale is essential to completing the next goal: raising an additional $1,000,000 in venture seed capital to take the product to market and scale up. They’re currently in the early phases of their first pilot project in Wyoming.

“The total addressable market for this tech is mind blowing,” Buckingham said. “We have the opportunity to drastically reduce costs and environmental waste in industries such as uranium, iron, gold, silver, vanadium, hydrocarbon reclamation, abandoned uranium mine reclamation, rare earth elements, copper and the list goes on and on.” 

As Wyoming natives, doing their part to diversify the state’s economy is an important part of their overall goal, Lee said.  

“We’re in the energy space, but we’re not cyclical with the energy industry,” he said.  

To date, they have already invested significant capital in Wyoming to develop the technology. They plan to employ at least 20 more people in the next year or two; ideally, University of Wyoming geology and engineering graduates. 

Casper’s centralized location and business-friendly environment provides a perfect headquarters, Buckingham added.  

 “We have no intentions of ever leaving Casper,” he said. “It has everything we want and need. We're happy here, and it’s a great base to further prove our technology.”

Both men said they were grateful for the support they’ve received in Wyoming. In addition to the Kickstart grant money, they placed in the Ellbogen Entrepreneurship Competition and won the Casper Startup Challenge last year. Those awards provided them with a year of free office space at the Casper Technology Business Center, where they’ve received support and mentorship from fellow entrepreneurs.  

They continue to partner with the University of Wyoming, specifically with the Center for Economic Geology Research. One of their business professors at UW was Disa’s first investor. That professor continues to provide valuable guidance, Lee said. 

This is only the beginning,” Buckingham said. “We're just getting started.”  

“We would love to grow a big, beautiful company in Casper, Wyoming,” Lee said.

 

Entrepreneur , In-State Companies , Business

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