Decibullz scoops up $250K top prize at first CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge pitch competition

By: Steve Sunday May 25, 2014 0 comments Tags: Baus Tech, Bill Reichert, Brian Thomas, Brianne Snook, Catharine Merigold, Charisse Bowen, Chris Hutchins, Chris Snook, Decibullz, deYrd, Fargreen, Fort Collins, GoSpotCheck, Greg Osburg, Kyle Kirkpatrick, Launch Haus, OtterBox, Turf Toes


By Steve Porter


FORT COLLINS - A Loveland company that creates earphones and earpieces that are easily and quickly molded and re-moldable to exactly fit a wearer's ears took the top prize of $250,000 during the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge Saturday evening.

Decibullz Custom Molded Earphones persuaded judges that its business model was most deserving of the first prize in the inaugural Northern Colorado pitch competition.

The company was founded by Kyle Kirkpatrick, a multi-sport athlete who became frustrated by a lack of music headphones that would stay put during exercising.

Kirkpatrick told judges he decided to create and manufacture his own design. He said the prize money would be used to scale up production of his earphones.

Decibullz beat out 16 competing companies in Saturday's all-day competition at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center.

(View InnovatioNews video of Decibullz winning presentation)

Five companies made the finalists cut and three - including Decibullz - won prize money contributed by Fort Collins-based Blue Ocean Enterprises.

Placing second and winning $25,000 in the BOEC was Denver-based GoSpotCheck, whose software-as-a-service product enables real-time, structured data collection.

The third-place prize of $10,000 went to Fargreen, a CSU-based business team that won the Collegiate Track of the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge competition on May 2.

CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises ChallengeFargreen aims to help poor Vietnamese farmers recycle their otherwise wasted rice straw into a fertilizer to grow gourmet mushrooms, thereby giving farmers another income source and reducing air pollution from previously burned straw.

Judges for the final competition included Brian Thomas, OtterBox CEO; Kyle Hansen, Kyjen founder; Catharine Merigold, Vista Ventures founder and managing partner; Greg Osberg, Revlyst founder and CEO and former Newsweek president; and Chris Hutchins, Google Ventures partner.

Other finalists who pitched their businesses Saturday were Fort Collins-based CommunityFunded, a unique crowdfunding company; and PayStand from Santa Cruz, Calif., which offers a payment gateway that makes it simple for organizations to receive money or sell on their websites without transaction costs.

Saturday's Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge capped the first-ever Fort Collins Startup Week spearheaded by Launch Haus founders Chris and Brianne Snook.

Fort Collins Startup Week, endorsed by the City of Fort Collins, included a wide variety of startup presentations, networking opportunities and a keynote address by Swiss futurist Gerd Leonhard.

On Friday, the first-ever Trolley Pitch Competition saw BOEC Collegiate Track contestants pitching their businesses to judges aboard Fort Collins Railway's historic Birney Car 21 trolley as it traveled up and down its Mountain Avenue route.

Winners of the trolley pitch competition announced Saturday night were:

  • First-place--BAUS Tech, $3,000

  • Second place--DeYrd, $2,000

  • Third place--Turf Toes, $1,000


All three winners were teams from the Colorado State University College of Business and the CSU Institute of Entrepreneurship headed by Charisse Bowen.

Bowen, who worked with Blue Ocean Enterprises to organize the competition, said she was very happy with the final result.

"I'm just so thrilled and pleased with our competitors," she said before announcing Saturday's winners.

The CSU BOEC drew a total of 32 business teams from Colorado's higher education institutions and across the nation.

Sponsors of the inaugural CSU BOEC included EMyth, HP, City of Fort Collins, 1st Bank, WildRock PR, OtterBox, Ethos, Coloradbiz, NerdyMind, EKS&H, Flood and Peterson, Hogan Lovells, New Belgium, SpokesBuzz, Odell Brewing, EY, Greenride, Mugs and InnovatioNews.

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About the Author: Steve