Greybull entrepreneur wins Ellbogen award

Posted 4/27/21

A University of Wyoming student from Greybull has won the John P. Ellbogen entrepreneurship award. Jared Henderson, a UW junior majoring in business economics, is set to receive a $50,000 …

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Greybull entrepreneur wins Ellbogen award

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A University of Wyoming student from Greybull has won the John P. Ellbogen entrepreneurship award. Jared Henderson, a UW junior majoring in business economics, is set to receive a $50,000 prize.

Henderson’s project, WireDraw LLC, is an information management system company. It designs programs to store, organize and distribute project data to team members. Each program is tailored to the specific company for which it is built.

In order to claim the prize, Henderson said there will be milestones to be reached and goals to be accomplished going forward. Half the prize is available to the company right away, the rest in six months as the milestones are met. 

Henderson became interested in developing such a system when he was working for a metal fabricating company. Its HR processes, such as entering hours for payroll, were archaic at best. Henderson became annoyed with how much time was being wasted on documenting work hours. He had a background in software engineering, so he created a new method of entering hours worked and streamlining payroll. 

“I am basically a programmer,” he joked. But then he worked out a method to track when sets of blueprints were in the office or out for use. A system was added to track information requests from architects.

“Eventually it got very refined,” Henderson said. “I figured if they could use it, other customers could, too.” 

Henderson said he decided to enter the competition when his honors professor, Joslyn Cassady, recommended it. To be an honors graduate, he had to complete a senior capstone project and Cassaday was more than supportive of using the start-up business as that project. Although she got Henderson in contact with mentors and project organizers, “this business is something I’ve wanted to start since before I came to college,” he said. 

“I also received fantastic guidance from IMPACT 307, a business incubator here in Laramie. They were more involved with the Fisher Innovation Launchpad, an entrepreneurship competition similar to Ellbogen. I also participated in Fisher and was awarded seed funding there as well,” Henderson said.

“I couldn’t have done this alone; the guidance from my mentors at Impact 307, Even Brande, and my father had a significant influence on my growth,” he continued. “I’m very grateful for that, and for this whole process. These are amazing opportunities and I definitely recommend them to any aspiring entrepreneur. It wasn’t easy, but it was more than worth it.

The award is named after John P. “Jack” Ellbogen, who was a Worland native. He attended UW and earned a bachelor’s degree in history, a law degree and an honorary doctorate from the College of Business. Ellbogen became an independent oil producer, forming several oil and gas companies.

Ellbogen attributed his success in business to the education he received at UW and was inspired by the outstanding teachers who encouraged him to work to his full potential. He believed in the importance of a quality education and was a strong advocate for teachers.

“Jack’s passion for teaching excellence was always so evident,” says UW Foundation President Ben Blalock. “His unwavering commitment to elevate Wyoming’s university played a major role in defining the pathway that the University of Wyoming Foundation has followed for decades. Working with Jack’s family through the years, as they carry forward his legacy, continues to be one of the greatest gifts I have enjoyed in my career with UW.”

Since Ellbogen’s passing in 2001, Mary Ellbogen Garland has cultivated her father’s legacy, overseeing the John P. Ellbogen Foundation as president and chair. Through her leadership, the foundation has spearheaded integral programs and initiatives that have empowered the people of Wyoming. The work of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation has been far-reaching, benefiting students and teachers on every level throughout the state.

“The impact of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation across the UW campus is remarkable,” Blalock said. “When I came to UW in 1996, I was privileged to enjoy many private conversations with Jack at his majestic IXL Ranch in Dayton.”

Henderson said that since his company is cloud based, he can work with any organization in Wyoming — and there has been considerable interest in applying his information handling systems in Colorado businesses as well. WireDraw is headquartered in Laramie.

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