CSU Blue Ocean Enterprise Challenge competitors prep for May 27-30 pitch event in Fort Collins
Wednesday April 29, 2015 0 comments
FORT COLLINS -- With one of the nation’s richest business pitch competitions just a month away, competitors in the Colorado State University Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge gathered in Fort Collins for two days of business training and guidance on presenting their companies with a winning pitch.
“The Competitor Conference is what sets the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge apart from other highly competitive, high-stakes business pitch competitions,” said Christine Chin, interim director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the CSU College of Business, and co-director of the Challenge. “Whether a team wins the $250,000 grand prize or not, every company takes away learning and insights from experts that they can use to improve their operations and become better businesses.”
The CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is presented by founding sponsors Colorado State University and Fort Collins-based Blue Ocean Enterprises. The competition, set for May 27-30 on the CSU campus in Fort Collins, is a celebration of innovation, leadership development, and job creation, and is open to collegiate entrepreneurs throughout Colorado as well as startups and existing companies throughout the United States seeking funding and business mentoring.
This is the second year for the Challenge, which takes place in conjunction with Fort Collins Startup Week immediately after Memorial Day. Thirteen Collegiate competitors will pitch on May 27 for a first prize of $20,000 and a berth in the Enterprise Competition, and 15 Enterprise Competition companies will pitch before the judges’ panel on May 29-30. All winners also receive business mentoring from executives at Blue Ocean Enterprises.
Blue Ocean Enterprises is a management company established in 2011 by OtterBox Founder and Chairman Curt Richardson and his wife, Nancy Richardson, to provide business mentoring, accounting, legal, information technology, real estate, and human relations services to its affiliated companies.
During the Competitor Conference, teams heard from Richardson about his philosophy of how to run a business that aligns with your values and received training from the Growth Curve Institute on everything from refining a business plan to managing cash flow. That was followed by a day of presentation training to prepare for the competition in May, under the guidance of Ethos3.
The most valuable aspect of the gathering, however, was the networking and interaction among the entrepreneurs, whose experience ranges from brand-new startups founded by graduating college seniors to industry veterans finally striking out on their own. The 28 competitor companies represent 15 different industry segments; many have participated in some form of business incubation, such as Tech Stars or Boomtown, or other pitch competitions.
“The training has been so valuable,” said Jennifer Maskrey, founder of QB Labs in Parker, recent winner of the Monfort Entrepreneurial Challenge in Denver and an Enterprise competitor. “I got my degree in science, so everything I learned about running a business was from spending time in corporate America. There was nothing like the Institute for Entrepreneurship when I was in college, and I really wish I had this kind of input at the college level. This weekend has been refreshingly helpful.”
“The level of competition is so much higher than I expected,” added Rich Fitzgerald, co-founder of Extrude to Fill of Loveland, also an Enterprise competitor. “I thought the collegiate companies would be something cooked up in a dorm room, but these are real companies, run by Ph.D. candidates. I am super impressed with their ideas.”
For a complete list of competitors, visit here.