Headquartered in Wyoming, creating translations for the world

Wyoming might not seem like a likely home for the leading translation technology provider. But that’s not only where Language I/O is headquartered; that’s also where we thrive.

Heather Shoemaker, Language I/O’s CEO, speaking with the Wyoming Business Council about starting and growing a business in Cheyenne, Wyoming, puts it best: “The railroad is what made Cheyenne what it is today. And we need to continue that sense of frontier and a place to do big, new things.”

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Language I/O’s roots are in Wyoming

When Heather Shoemaker decided to start Language I/O, she could’ve done it in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley, where most tech companies and investors seem to be. Now, the founder and CEO of Language I/O knows what has kept her in Wyoming. Not only does she have a greater appreciation for the quality of life in her home state, she’s also able to stand apart from many other entrepreneurs: “I didn’t want to be just one more entrepreneur down in Silicon Valley.” 

Given all the modern technology that enables remote and hybrid working, from virtual meetings to seamless online collaboration, there’s really no reason that a technology company couldn’t be headquartered in Wyoming or anywhere else, really. It lets employees — and businesses — discover unexplored areas of potential and take advantage of relatively low costs.

Diversity of workforce and opportunities

The remote/hybrid model is not an entirely novel concept. Disabled people have been demanding remote work for decades — and the pandemic has made it easier for many disabled people to work from home

Remote work provides more opportunities to people who are not in the “hubs,” sure, but there’s also something that businesses can gain. Instead of building an echo chamber, businesses that are built off the beaten track are able to build a truly diverse workforce, with real diversity of thought and skill sets. 

Language I/O has remained distributed for this very reason. And having our headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyoming, means we can employ some of the very best talent that we might otherwise not have access to. “Wyoming employees are so reliable and hardworking,” Shoemaker says. Hiring people locally while also keeping the door open for people from different cultures and backgrounds is a great way to honor Wyoming’s pioneering legacy.

Inspiring and empowering women and minorities in STEM

If a tech firm headquartered in Wyoming isn’t novel enough, try this: a tech firm with headquarters in Wyoming and a woman CEO. Shoemaker is well aware of the weight that her role carries. “It’s very important that young girls see women leaders in technology. We can help women by getting here and then making it the norm.”

Even in 2024, women are severely underrepresented in corporate America: Only 25% of C-suite leaders are women

A variety of factors lead to women and minorities being underrepresented in STEM companies. It’s no longer the “glass ceiling” that’s the issue. The real challenge is the “broken rung.” 66% of women lack clear career progress paths in their companies. Women are also disproportionately affected during layoffs. 

All this goes to show it’s all the more crucial for women to be represented in leadership and for changemakers to prioritize creating opportunities for women to grow and succeed. Not only that, we also need more role models making a difference outside of San Francisco and New York. And that would only be the start of something exciting. As Shoemaker says, “We have a lot of firsts here in Wyoming, and there’s no reason we can’t be the first to have a strong percentage of our technology companies led by women.”

How the Wyoming Business Council supported Language I/O

The best part about building a business in Wyoming? It’s the way the state welcomes and nurtures entrepreneurs like Shoemaker with top-notch support programs. 

The resources from Wyoming Business Council have been invaluable to her as an entrepreneur. “You can get reimbursed for hiring interns here in Wyoming. You can get reimbursed for taking Wyoming employees to conferences all over the world. There’s just so much opportunity for entrepreneurs here,” Shoemaker says. 

Ranking first every year for its business-friendly tax climate, the state of Wyoming also provides several resources and financing support for startups. In fact, Language I/O was the first ever recipient of investment capital from the Wyoming Venture Capital (WYVC) Fund. “You can get funding from the state of Wyoming to grow a tech firm here. And it’s just so exciting to see that participation, that support, from our home state wanting us to succeed,” Shoemaker says.

Not only that, Wyoming has a rich history of empowering its local communities, including women leaders. There are several reasons why it’s called the Equality State, but the biggest one? Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote. And now, it’s continuing to make a huge difference by funding and promoting the local tech ecosystem.

And the view isn’t bad either

If you think of Wyoming as an outdoor paradise, you’re not wrong. With two national parks, 12 state parks, seven ski areas and resorts and five national forests, it’s no wonder that tourism is the second largest industry in this state. The state’s natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, along with several historic sites and the robust arts scene tell a rich story. A company headquartered in Wyoming not only employs the best talent there, but also invites its other employees to visit and engage with the culture.

For aspiring women entrepreneurs, there’s an important message here. The beginnings of your business might be way closer to home than you think, even if that home isn’t California or New York. 

“Wyoming allows you to do things a little differently,” Shoemaker says. She calls her home state a place of “non-conformity, entrepreneurship and innovation,” observing that the people of Wyoming are known for being strongly independent. And that means there’s great potential to grow the tech ecosystem here, and across the country.