Young entrepreneur making a name for himself

Nathan Oster

The same entrepreneurial spirit that drove Jared Henderson to try making his own and selling homemade firecrackers and temporary tattoos as a teenager is serving him well as a junior business economics major at the University of Wyoming.

The son of Vern and Donata Henderson and a 2016 GHS grad, Jared has a passion for finding solutions to everyday problems and one of those make-life-easier solutions — a computer program he developed to increase business efficiency — has been recognized in two different entrepreneurial competitions.

Jared won the John P. Ellbogen entrepreneurship award and was among the top placers in the Fisher Innovation Launchpad. For his efforts, he earned $37,700 in seed money — $23,500 for the Ellbogen, $14,200 for the Fisher — to keep growing his business idea.

To understand how far he’s come, you have to understand where he began.

“I’ve always been very independent minded,” he said, when asked about his entrepreneurial spirit. “I never felt like there was any one particular job that I felt a super connection with or anything like that. I always wanted to go my own way, to find success on my own.”

Jared laughs about his early attempts at entrepreneurship — the fireworks, the temporary tattoos, initially foregoing college because he wanted to try his hand at selling real estate. While they didn’t all turn out as planned, they set him on a course.

He had two good examples, right in his own home. His father Vern owns Kustom King while his mother, Donata, owns a coffee stand in Basin. They chose their own paths and Jared did, too. What motivates him the most, he said, is making life easier for the people around him.

“I love the independence of it and how the limit to your success is not defined by the company — by that I mean when you’re an employee, you have to climb the ladder and do all these things to be successful. And that’s totally a reasonable path for most people. But I didn’t want to have to go through all that. I wanted to do my own thing.”

Jared said about a year before he decided to go college, he was working as a steel detailer, “basically just making blueprints,” when he noticed the company wasn’t very efficient in the area of information management.

A computer programmer at heart, Jared developed a system to help that business and its employees track and share documents and handle payroll. It didn’t happen overnight. He had to work at it. But eventually, it worked and he felt like he was making a difference in the lives of his coworkers.

Not long after he enrolled at UW. He’s now in the honors program. To be an honors graduate, he needed to complete a senior capstone project. His advisor encouraged him to use his start-up idea to fulfill that requirement. She is also the one who connected him with Impact 307, a business incubator program in Laramie.

The rest is history. He entered the project in the competitions, draw raves from evaluators and landed the seed money. He didn’t get all the money up front. In the case of the Ellbogen award, milestones will have to be met. If he does that, he’ll get the other half after six months.

And while the money is the highlight, the sense of accomplishment rivaled it.

“You’d couldn’t imagine the feeling,” he said. “It was even amplified by all the torture that the COVID policies have brought on these last six months or so. It was an amazing feeling to come through all — the work, the time, and not being able to see friends and family. It was like seeing light at the end of a tunnel.”

Jared said his initial objective is to make money off his business, which he named WireDraw, LLC.

“I’ll be grinding this summer and really want to focus on this for the time being,” he said. ”I want to get it established, bring on employees and start building a customer base. When it comes to school, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to return in the fall.”

It didn’t take him long to identify the person most responsible for putting him on his career path.

“Definitely my dad,” he said. “He started something successful at my age and has stuck with it all these years. I’ve never met a person who knew my dad and had anything bad to say about him. I really look up to him.”