Have a brilliant business idea but aren't sure where to begin? THE CLIMB may be your next step toward entrepreneurial success — and a chance to win cash and in-kind prizes!
Since 2001, THE CLIMB | Startup Pitch Competition has supported the growth of collegiate startups and the entrepreneurial community across the Front Range.
Backed by the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Denver and infamous entrepreneur, Jake Jabs, THE CLIMB is an annual event series that helps students and future business owners transform concepts into viable companies through mentorship, education, financial support, and real-world industry exchanges. With more than 600 mentor hours shared and $1.2 million awarded to date, the competition continues to grow and shape student experiences, local businesses, and the Colorado entrepreneurial community.
How It Works
Spring 2023 Cash Awards:
First Place – $10,000
Second Place – $5,000
Best Healthcare Business Award – $2,500
Mission-Driven Award – $2,500
People’s Choice Award – $2,000
Team Eligibility Requirements:
- At least one member of the team has to be a student (currently enrolled) at a college or university within the state of Colorado.
- The startup must be a concept under 2 years old. (An official company tax ID number is required to receive award money.) Total sales and revenues must be under $100,000. Please note that we cannot invest in ideas using cannabis or any other goods, services, or industries incompatible with the mission of CU Denver.
- The concept being submitted cannot have received any seed/angel/venture capital (VC) funding before application deadline.
- Teams selected as finalists are REQUIRED to have at least one team member present at THE CLIMB | Pitch Night on Thursday, April 27, 2023.
- Teams selected as finalists are REQUIRED to submit a full business plan (download template below).
- Winners must form an appropriate business entity, if they have not done so previously. Proof of business entity must be shown to the Jake Jabs Center team in order to receive prize money.
- 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).
- A complete online application submitted through Reviewr.
- A 60-90 second video pitch of your business idea or existing startup.
- A 2-3 page executive summary, including a one-paragraph partner agreement.
- Applications are due by midnight on Thursday, March 30, 2023. Incomplete applications will be disqualified. Please email our team at email@example.com if you encounter any issues on the application platform.
- 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:
THE CLIMB | Spring 2023
Kickoff Info Session | Thursday, Feb. 2 @ 5:30 PM
New to THE CLIMB? Join us for a quick overview of who should compete, the application process, upcoming workshops, and tips & tricks for the competition. This is the time to ask questions and form a group with students from other schools and colleges! This workshop was recorded and is available to view. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
Applications Open | Thursday, Feb. 2
Idea Generator | Thursday, Feb. 16 @ 5:30 PM
Check out this workshop to learn how to come up with an innovative business idea. We’ll go through thought-provoking questions and brainstorming methods that can help you identify unmet needs, market gaps, and potential business ventures.
Startup Consulting | Thursday, March 2 @ 5:30 PM
Now that you have a business idea, here’s your chance to get expert feedback and guidance on how to move forward. Ask your most pressing questions to a group of entrepreneurial experts in their respective fields, including marketing, branding, law, R&D, management, finance, and more.
Pitch Market | Thursday, March 16 @ 5:30 PM
Bring your best elevator pitch to wow mock investors at this “speed dating”-style pitch event! Competitors and non-competitors alike can practice sharing their business idea to a variety of audiences throughout the room. See who can earn the most “investments” by the end of the night for the chance to win fun prizes.
Applications Close | Thursday, March 30
Practice Pitches (INVITE ONLY)
Finalists will get to practice and refine their pitch presentations in front of a group of mentors to obtain feedback before Pitch Night. Final slides will be due to the Jake Jabs Center team shortly after.
Pitch Night | Thursday, April 27 @ 5:30 PM
It all comes down to this! Attend this evening event to see finalists and teams from across Colorado pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. Vote for your favorite and see who wins THE CLIMB!
Sponsor THE CLIMB
Our startup pitch competition and event series 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. Every semester, the Jake Jabs Center is able to provide students with exclusive scholarships for entrepreneurship courses as a result of fundraising events such as this. Help us support these hardworking individuals and be a part of this prestigious competition. 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, please contact us at email@example.com.
- Presenting Sponsor: $25,00
- Platinum Sponsor: $15,000
- Gold Sponsor: $10,000
- Silver Sponsor: $7,500
- In-Kind Donations