August 7, 2023
Wyoming Business Council Announces First Wyoming Venture Capital Fund Investment
Via Wyoming Business Council
Cheyenne, Wyo (For Immediate Release) – The Wyoming Business Council (WBC) is excited to announce its first direct equity investment from the newly created, federally funded Wyoming Venture Capital (WYVC) Fund in Wyoming-based Language I/O. Established in 2011, Language I/O (LIO) is led by founder and CEO Heather Shoemaker who has built and scaled the company in Cheyenne.
LIO’s core business offers customer service language translation for notable companies like Rosetta Stone, Constant Contact, Shutterstock, and a growing number of global firms in the Fortune 500. It integrates seamlessly into customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, empowering English-speaking customer support agents to chat, email and otherwise engage in real-time communication with customers in more than 150 languages.
The company was initially self-funded, but after realizing the large-scale market opportunity, LIO began seeking outside funding. Shoemaker shared her company’s vision across the state and received initial investments from Casper-based Breakthrough 307 and Jackson-based Silicon Couloir Angel Group investors. This investment spurred the hiring of additional Wyoming team members and the scaling of both product and business growth globally.
“Coupled with Wyoming’s remote and relatively small economy, today’s market climate makes it challenging to raise venture capital,” said Gordon Finnegan, WBC Equity Portfolio Manager. “Language I/O’s ability to close this funding round and add a runway to scale and stay in front of the burgeoning artificial intelligence curve will allow their language translation technology to continue to be in a great market position. Our WYVC team feels strongly that this is not only a great investment, but the economic impact this will have on the state of Wyoming will be tremendous.”
With their growth, LIO has become an active corporate partner with the University of Wyoming (UW), making sure students are prepared for the workforce either at Language I/O or other companies in the information technology field. Shoemaker has been invited to speak to UW computer science majors and her company has enlisted student interns over the years.
The high-growth tech company also has the potential to dramatically impact Wyoming’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Having raised a significant amount of venture capital investment to date, LIO helps illustrate both national viability and notoriety for Wyoming’s startups.
“Heather has helped foster a culture of community involvement and advancement in Wyoming. The creation and innovation of Language I/O have bolstered our local economy and brought our state to the cutting edge of burgeoning technologies,” Finnegan continued. “Our goal is to elevate Wyoming startups so they can go beyond the initial check, and Language I/O is the ideal first investment for this initiative. We are thrilled to support Heather and her team and are confident they’ll continue to grow successfully.”
As a female entrepreneur, Shoemaker is proud of her Wyoming roots.
“Wyoming has a rich history of empowering its local communities, including women leaders. Known as the Equality State, it was the first to grant women the right to vote and is now at the forefront of elevating the tech ecosystem,” she said. “I am proud to be a part of this program alongside the rest of my team at Language I/O and look forward to working with WYVC to continue paving the way for future generations of female entrepreneurs.”
The WYVC team is currently finalizing direct investments in two other companies as well as working through diligence with multiple others. The team is also working closely with multiple Wyoming-focused emerging venture capital firms to support raising their first funds.
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