Business Plan Competition


Have a brilliant business idea, but aren't sure where to begin? THE CLIMB | Jake Jabs Center Business Plan Competition may be your next step toward entrepreneurial success.

THE CLIMB is a business development event series for collegiate startups based in Colorado. Hosted by the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Denver, THE CLIMB is designed to help student entrepreneurs transform concepts into viable businesses through education, mentorship, networking and financial support. THE CLIMB celebrates 17 years of guiding entrepreneurial thinkers, empowering them to blaze their own trail and pushing them to reach their peak potential.

How It Works

Attend Kickoff Party & Workshops

Submit Application


Finalists Reveal

Pitch Night


Team Eligibility Requirements:

  1. At least one member of the team has to be a qualified/enrolled college student at
    a Colorado university or community college.
  2. The startup must be a concept to under 2 years old. (Official Company Tax ID number is required to receive award money.) Total sales and revenues must be $0 to under $100,000. 
  3. The concept being submitted cannot have received any seed/angel/venture capital (VC) funding before application deadline on February 28th, 2018.
  4. Teams selected for Pitch Night are REQUIRED to have at least one team member physically present at Pitch Night on April 26th, 2018.
  5. The six finalists chosen for Pitch Night will be REQUIRED to submit a full business plan (download template below), due April 9th, 2018. 
  6. Winners must form an appropriate business entity, if they have not done so previously, no later than May 30th, 2018. Proof of business entity must be shown to the Jake Jabs Center team by this date in order to receive prize money. 
  7. If you/your team applied for THE CLIMB in a previous year, you/your team can compete under the same concept/business as long as you did not make the top finalists pitch round (and meet the above qualifications). Teams that did apply and make the top finalists pitch round can compete again, BUT must submit a new concept/business (and meet the above qualifications).

Application Requirements:

  1. A complete online application submitted through Reviewer.
  2. A 60-90 second video pitch of business idea or existing startup.
  3. A 3-page executive summary.
  4. Applications will be open starting February 1st, 2018, and will close on February 28th, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. MST. The top six Pitch Night finalists will be announced at our Finalists Reveal/Meet Your Mentor Night on March 13th, 2018. Incomplete applications and applications sent after the deadline will be automatically disqualified. There is NO application fee!

Why Should I Enter?

THE CLIMB gives aspiring student entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with (and pitch to) some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Rocky Mountain West. For those willing to make THE CLIMB, the benefits of participating include:

Recognition and exposure

Access to exclusive mentorship opportunities

Workshops and pitch support events

Financial awards for top finalists


Pitch Night – April 26, 2018 @5:30-7:30 p.m. | The Curtis Hotel

At Pitch Night, six finalists will present their business ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of winning cash prizes up to $10,000. Come hear the teams’ innovative concepts, connect with the Denver and CU Denver entrepreneurial communities, and find out who wins THE CLIMB. You don’t want to miss out on the most exciting event of the series!

Kickoff Party – January 30, 2018 @5:30-7:00 p.m. | Wynkoop Brewing Co.

THE CLIMB | Business Plan Competition is back again this spring for all Colorado collegiate teams! Join us at our Kickoff Party to learn more about THE CLIMB and the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship. Need more team members on board or looking for a mentor to help you refine your business concept? You’ll also be able to network with fellow students, CU Denver alumni and local entrepreneurs.

Startup Workshop – February 22, 2018 @6:30-8:30 p.m. | Wynkoop Brewing Co.

Take your startup to the next level by attending THE CLIMB | Startup Workshop! Gain insight into business topics like intellectual property, market research and financing, or ask fellow Denver business professionals all of your startup questions at our discussion tables.

Spark Social Happy Hour – February 27, 2018 @5:30-7:00 p.m. | Industrious Denver

Are you looking for a place to meet with like-minded, entrepreneurial individuals in hopes of bringing your startup to the next level? Come network with CU Denver students and alumni, THE CLIMB alumni and local entrepreneurs at our Spark Social Happy Hour to see what ideas might “ignite!”

Finalists Reveal/Meet Your Mentor Night – March 13, 2018 @5:30-7:00 p.m. | Industrious Denver

Only six teams will be chosen to present their business concept in front of a panel of judges at THE CLIMB | Pitch Night…who will it be?! Come network with fellow contestants and meet potential mentors at our Finalists Reveal.

Practice Pitches – March 29, 2018 @6:30 p.m. | CU Denver Business School – Room 3200

THE CLIMB finalists will practice their pitches in front of fellow students to obtain feedback in real-time in preparation for Pitch Night.

Sponsor THE CLIMB!

Our Business Plan Competition exists due to the amazing support (via both monetary and in-kind contributions) we’ve received from our sponsors.

By sponsoring THE CLIMB, you can help students and aspiring entrepreneurs contribute to our growing startup and business community. With cash and in-kind prizes, we want to give competitors the financial and professional support they need to jumpstart their business ideas.

If you or your company is interested in sponsoring THE CLIMB for Spring 2018, please contact Assistant Director Sarah Engel at 303-515-8503 or

Sponsorship Levels:
  1. Platinum Sponsor: $5,000
  2. Gold Sponsor: $2,500
  3. Silver Sponsor: $1,500
  4. Bronze Sponsor: $1,000
  5. In-Kind Donations (i.e. mentorship hours, incubation space, etc.)
THE CLIMB Sponsors: