Investor Bios

Jerad Stack portrait imageJerad Stack, Founding Member

Technology – Stack Ventures – Casper, WY

Jerad Stack is a successful startup founder, angel investor and business mentor.

Jerad has nearly 20 years’ experience in the enterprise software and industries. In that time, he has worked in fields ranging from communication satellites, to consumer electronics, to Formula One racecars. Jerad is currently the Entrepreneur in Residence at the Wyoming Technology Business Center where is serves as an advisor to multiple emerging high-growth companies.

Jerad was founder and CEO of the Laramie-based, venture-backed, engineering software company, Firehole Technologies. As CEO he formulated and executed the company’s strategies towards developing better design and analysis software, leading to multiple years of double-digit growth and an eventual 8-figure exit to the Fortune 500 software giant, Autodesk in March, 2013. After acquisition Mr. Stack lead a product team transforming the business by building next generation design products on new cloud platforms. Additionally, at Autodesk Jerad was involved in half a dozen acquisitions where he gained a wealth of knowledge and experience on the acquirer-side of startup exits.

Jerad has a long list of awards and recognitions including: Wyoming’s “40 under 40”, the Trilogy Customer Success award, Raytheon’s Technical Honors designation,. Jerad also volunteers with multiple community organizations, currently serving as chair of the Amoco Reuse Agreement Joint Powers Board – overseeing a massive redevelopment effort on the former il companies’ Casper properties.
A fifth-generation Wyomingite, Jerad holds an M.S. and B.S. both in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming.

 

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Charles Walsh, Founding Member

Technology – Timber Ridge Partners, LLC – Casper, WY

Charles spent five years in the Air Force at March AFB and Los Angeles Air Force Station before moving to Ohio in 1987.  After working for two Information Technology companies, Charles started his first business in 1991 employing 90 people before selling the business in 1998 to a private party. He, and two partners, started a second business in 1999, employing 150 people, before selling the business to Kratos, a publicly traded company in 2002. 

Charles founded the first organized Angel Investment Fund in Dayton, Ohio, where he and nine other members invested in eight startup companies.  Two years later, Charles was one of the founding members of the first Ohio Tech Angel Fund; a family of Angel funds now in their fifth fund with 300+ participating angel investors investing more than $33 million dollars in startup businesses.

Before moving to Wyoming in 2006, Charles was the CEO of the Center of Innovation for Advance Data Management, Analysis, and Visualization, a public-private partnership between 38 private IT companies, five universities, State of Ohio, and Wright Patterson AFB with the sole mission of moving leading edge technologies into the marketplace through startups, business expansion, and recruitment of new businesses. 

Charles served on multiple boards including the Governors Small Business Council, Greater Dayton Information Technology Alliance (GDITA), Workforce Policy Board, Technology Entrepreneur Center, and the Center of Innovation.  Charles invested in Wyoming by redeveloping two commercial buildings in downtown Casper and the Old Yellowstone District.  During his tenure as Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority from 2012 – 2016 new public restrooms were implemented and the initiation of David Street Station plaza occurred. 

Charles was one of the founding members of Breakthrough 307 Investors (BT307) the first organized Angel Fund in Casper Wyoming targeting early stage, high growth entrepreneurial business investment and development.  Charles served on the Board of the Casper Area Economic Development for three years before resigning to accept the role as CEO. 

 


Ron Wright, Founding Member

Finance – CAEDA/Forward Casper – Casper, WY

A native of Wyoming, Ron grew up near Buffalo and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Agriculture Business (1978). He subsequently obtained a post-graduate degree from Pacific Coast Banking School in Seattle, WA (1990).

With the exception of three years in Cheyenne, WY, Ron has spent his working career in Casper involved with various financial institutions. Experience with several employers (Farm Credit Services, First Interstate Bank, Hilltop National Bank, Bank of the West, and Platte Valley Bank) has provided exposure to several different banking perspectives. Ron was hired as the President of Platte Valley Bank in Casper in 2009, and serves on the Board of Directors for Platte Valley Bank of Wyoming.

Over the years, Ron’s primary banking focus has been on commercial lending, and finds it very rewarding to be a “partner” in the growth and success of business ventures.

Ron has been actively involved in the Casper community, including Kiwanis Club of Casper, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Downtown Development Authority Board, Casper Area Chamber of Commerce, Natrona County 4-H, Daniels Fund College Coach, United Way, and Casper Petroleum Club Board.

Ron currently serves as the Secretary for Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, Inc. (CAEDA), and represents CAEDA/Forward Casper in the Breakthrough 307: Investment Fund 1. 

 

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Neil Benton, Member

Marketing & Brand Development – Zoe, LLC – Casper, WY

“I wanted to be part of BT 307 because I enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit and working with start-up companies and helping them work through the challenges of developing a new business.”

Neil Benton has been an entrepreneur since a very young age. In 1998 , Neil joined a start-up company in Seattle, WA called Avenue A. While with Avenue A, he was able to hone his skills in business, and work with some of the top marketers in the country including L'Oreal, Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, and Nabisco to name a few. Avenue A was so impressed with his drive and determination to succeed, that they continued to move Neil to each of their newest locations including New York and London. After moving back to Wyoming, Neil started and sold Metro Coffee Company and then started Centact Solution which helps banks manage construction loan.  In 2009, Neil took his love for marketing and started the marketing firm The BARK Firm, which he continues to help companies manage their brands.

 

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Samantha Benton, Member

Finance – Zoe, LLC – Casper, WY

"I wanted to be a part of BT307 because I want to help businesses that have great ideas that aren't able to get traditional bank financing." 

Samantha Benton has been in the banking industry for over 20 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Wyoming.  She is a Wyoming native and is active in her community.  

 

 

 

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Eric Cubin, Member

Medical – EJC Ventures, LLC – Casper, WY

Dr. Eric Cubin is an interventional radiologist at Casper Medical Imaging.  He was born and raised in Casper and is thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Wyoming and take care of the wonderful people who helped him become who he is today.  In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Cubin is a small business owner, a venture capitalist, and involved in real estate investing.  Outside of work, Dr. Cubin spends his time with his wife and 3 beautiful daughters or hunting.

 

 

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Mary Garland, Member

 – Robert F Garland III Revocable Trust – Laramie, WY

Mary Ellbogen Garland, President and Chair John P. Ellbogen Foundation – Ms. Garland is generally and broadly involved personally as a volunteer and professionally in her position with the Ellbogen Foundation in service to the people of the State of Wyoming. She has taken the lead for a statewide Initiative in support of National Board Certification for Wyoming teachers.  Other focus areas include education leadership and early childhood systems building.  She is a director on the Ruth R. Ellbogen Foundation Board. She serves on the University of Wyoming College of Education Advisory Board, University of Wyoming Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, University of Wyoming Literacy Research Center and Clinic Advisory, Cathedral Home for Children Board, Wyoming Early Childhood Partnership Board, Healthy Birth Infant Brains Foundation Board, and as field support and board member for the Jason’s Friends Foundation.  The focus of her work is in education and for the benefit of children and families. Mary has a marketing degree with a minor in finance from the University of Wyoming and is a Leadership Wyoming graduate, class of 2001. She was awarded the degree – Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa – from the University of Wyoming in May 2009.

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Rob Garland, PG, Member

Energy – Robert F Garland III Revocable Trust – Laramie, WY

Rob has over 27 years of experience focused on mineral and energy resources development in the Rocky Mountain region with emphasis on environmental site assessment, remediation, regulatory permitting & compliance, and water resource development & management.

After consulting as well as working for energy development and environmental consulting firms from 1982 to 1998 he formed InterTech Environmental & Engineering, LLC in 1999 and was the managing partner and Senior Hydrogeologist. He sold InterTech to Apex Companies in 2015 and currently works for them as a client Program Manager.

He is a registered Professional Geologist in Wyoming and has a B.S. in Petroleum Geology ‘82 and an M.S. in Hydrogeology and Water Resources ’96 from the University of Wyoming.

 
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Steve Loftin, Member

Engineering/Construction – The TETRAL Corporation – Casper, WY

A product of Casper Wyoming schools, I went on to Casper College and then the University of Utah. Graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1976. Started 71 Construction along with Ken Schulte and Tom Davenport. 71 Construction grew to be a large Wyoming based infrastructure contractor with division offices currently in Casper, Riverton, and Rawlins. 
With the partnerships of Steve, Tom and Ken, we expanded into Douglas, started a slurry seal contractor in Colorado, Car Wash in Casper, Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturing plant in Casper, and Real estate ownership and development around Wyoming.

 
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Bill McDowell, Member

Finance – Individual – Casper, WY

Bio coming soon. 

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Peter Nicolaysen, Member

Law – Elmnico Investments, LLC – Casper, WY

“I am very pleased to be part of a team that cares deeply about investing in Wyoming and promoting the creative spark for economic development in our State.”

Peter Nicolaysen is the founder and managing partner of Nicolaysen & Associates, P.C., a Wyoming law firm representing clients statewide from offices in Casper.  Mr. Nicolaysen received his B.A. degree from Saint Olaf College in Minnesota in 1994.  Since graduating from the University Of Wyoming College Of Law in 1997, Mr. Nicolaysen has assisted clients with complex business planning, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures and he has had substantial legal and business involvement in virtually every type of Wyoming real estate matter.

Mr. Nicolaysen’s understanding of Wyoming land use and agriculture stems from having grown up on the family ranch located in central Wyoming, which has been operated by the family continuously since 1892.  Today, Mr. Nicolaysen continues the tradition with his brother and father as they move into the second centennial of running the ranch.  His background in agriculture, real estate and energy development provides a valuable, practical understanding of issues vital to Wyoming.

Mr. Nicolaysen has served on and advised numerous not-for-profit organizations.  He currently serves as the Chancellor to the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming and serves as a trustee of the Wyoming Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and as a board member of the Casper Soccer Club.

Mr. Nicolaysen is an avid outdoorsman and spends as much time as possible at the ranch and in the beautiful mountains of the Northern Laramie Range.

 
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William Pollock, Member

Manufacturing – Individual – Casper, WY

Bio coming soon. 

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Tracy Richards, Richards Trucking imageTracy Richardson, Member

Logistics – Individual – Laramie, WY

Tracy was born and raised in Casper, WY.  He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a B.S. In Marketing in 1998 and received his J.D. from the UW College of Law in 2002.  Following law school, Tracy studied tax law at the University of Florida College of Law and received an LL.M in taxation from the UF College of Law in 2003.  Tracy worked as a tax attorney in Jacksonville, Florida for 4 years and had his own estate planning practice in Casper for 2 years before moving on to serve as the Director of Planned Giving at the University of Wyoming Foundation for 7 years.  Tracy is currently working for the family trucking company, Richardson Trucking, and resides in Laramie, WY with his wife, Cebee, and his two sons, T.R. and Calvin.  Tracy is an avid Pokes fan and enjoys playing golf and spending time with his family outdoors.


Dr. Razi Saydjari, Member

Medical – Saydjari Holding Company, LLC – Casper, WY

Razi Saydjari received a B.S. degree in physics from Baylor University. He entered the Air Force as a meteorologist and was a “typhoon chaser” before attending medical school and residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.  He began his medical career as a military surgeon at F.E. Warren Air Force Base and was deployed during Desert Storm. He has been practicing general surgery for over 30 years. He is an author and musician. 

“I joined Breakthrough 307 because I find the idea of funding entrepreneurs exciting.  There is no reason why Casper can’t be another silicon valley or incubator for new technology.  I want to be part of that effort”

 

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Dr. Robert Schidt, Member

Medical – Separate LLC – Casper, WY

Bio coming soon. 

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Brian Stack, Member

Finance – B Stack 2016 LLC – Casper, WY

“Breakthrough 307 is an exciting opportunity to help startup businesses get their foundation in place, both financially and structurally, to grow and succeed.”

Brian Stack is a Casper, WY native and graduated with a B.S in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Wyoming.  He has been in the Banking Industry for approximately 15 years. 

 

 

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Amy Surdam, FNP-C, LTC, Member

Medical- Individual – Cheyenne, WY

“This year Wyoming’s economy was last in the nation. We want to help diversify and improve Wyoming’s economy by investing capital into start-up companies and entrepreneurs with promise and potential. We are going to invest our time, talent, and treasure to help entrepreneurs succeed… to help our state succeed. Think Shark Tank only cowboy style."

Amy has proudly lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming since age 11. She graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1996 with a BSN, and in 2004 with a MSN. She serves in the Wyoming Army National Guard as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She is formerly the Manager of Cheyenne Regional Urgent Care, Executive Director of the Cheyenne Downtown Development Authority/Main Street, and founder of Children’s Museum of Cheyenne. Amy’s talent and passion lies in strategic planning, public relations, public speaking, leadership, connecting people, and making a difference. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, running, and creating a better tomorrow.

 

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Dan Surdam, MD, Member

Medical – Individual – Cheyenne, WY

Dr. Surdam was born and raised in Laramie, Wyoming. He graduated from Colorado College in 1997 and Creighton Medical School in 2002. He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX. He served at the Medical Director of the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center Emergency Department and the Operations Manager of Cheyenne Regional Urgent Care for many years and was previous owner of Frontier Emergency Physicians. Dr. Surdam has owned a billing company and several urgent care centers in Wyoming and Texas. He is a true entrepreneur with a desire to help Wyoming and its people gain better access to quality, affordable healthcare. Dr. Surdam enjoys golf, fishing, travel, and spending time with his family.

 

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Kip True, Member

Energy – Facet Financial, LLC – Casper, WY

A Wyoming native returned home, Kip True studied and wandered through Arizona, Alaska and Colorado during a 10-year interim period. After some work experience in consulting and banking, he formed a suite of small companies with family members, currently operating in oil and gas, aggregates, beef cattle and Quarter Horses, oilfield services, franchise operation and financial investment. He also serves as managing director of a charitable foundation seeking medical advances in 'orphan' neurodegenerative diseases.

He completed an MBA in Finance at the University of Denver in 1996. 

 

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Tracy True, Member

Energy – Facet Financial, LLC – Casper, WY

Bio coming soon. 

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Tad True, Member

Energy – Hat Trick Revocable Trust – Casper, WY

Bio coming soon.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Kade Walters, Member

Energy – Individual – Casper, WY

Kade Walters grew up in Wyoming and graduated from Chadron State University with a degree in Marketing.  Kade works for an oil and gas manufacturing company in Casper, and has expertise in agriculture, oil and gas, and tourism and hospitality.  Kade decided to get involved with BT 307, because of her belief in a strong community, and encouraging entrepreneurship.

 
 
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Tom Walters, Member

Agriculture – Individual – Casper, WY

Tom Walters grew up in Wyoming and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in Animal Science and Agriculture Business. Tom manages ranch in Natrona County, and has expertise in agriculture, oil and gas, and tourism and hospitality. Tom decided to get involved with BT 307, because of his belief in a strong community, and encouraging entrepreneurship.

 
 

 

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Scott Wells, Member

Energy/Finace – Individual – Casper, WY

Bio coming soon. 

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