THE CLIMB | Jake Jabs Business Plan Competition

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 | Jake Jabs Business Plan 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

Attend 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 a community member (resident) of Colorado.
  2. The startup must be a concept 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.
  4. Teams selected are REQUIRED to have at least one team member present at THE CLIMB | Pitch Night.
  5. Teams selected are REQUIRED to submit a full business plan (download template below).
  6. 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 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 Reviewr.
  2. A 60-90 second video pitch of your business idea or existing startup.
  3. A 2-3 page executive summary, including a one-paragraph partner agreement.
  4. Applications close on TBD. Incomplete applications and applications sent after the deadline will be automatically disqualified.
  5. 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 & exposure

Access to exclusive mentorship

Workshops & educational events

Financial awards for top finalists

Scheduled Events

THE CLIMB | Spring 2023 | TBA

Kickoff Info Session

View this info session to learn more about THE CLIMB’s application process, requirements, and history. Are you looking for some team members or a mentor to help you refine your business concept? This is the time to ask questions and explore ideas with fellow students, alumni, and local entrepreneurs.

Applications Open 


Join us at this Validator Idea Lab event to learn more about validating a business concept and the best way to move forward with your idea. Meet with advisors and mentors to get help with next steps for your business.

Legal Workshop

Join us at our Legal Workshop to discover the crucial questions entrepreneurs and founders should ask when launching a new venture. Attendees will be given an overview of the key issues in corporate, IP, and employment law and how to structure a business.


Join us for the Refinery event to learn more about the elevator pitch process and how to create the best executive summary for investors. This event will have mentors and alumni from THE CLIMB in attendance to help applicants polish elevator pitches and prepare for submitting applications.

Applications Close

Practice Pitches (INVITE ONLY)

Finalists will practice their pitches in front of a group of mentors to obtain feedback before Pitch Night. They will then have time to refine their presentations, which will be due to the Jake Jabs Center team.


During this evening event, 11 semifinalists will present their pitches to judges in hopes of advancing on to Pitch Night. The room is open if you’d like to observe! 

Pitch Night

Attend this evening event to see competing teams from Colorado colleges and universities pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges and live audience. Vote for your favorite and see who wins 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. 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 our Associate Director Sarah Engel at 303-515-8503 or

Sponsorship Levels:
  1. Presenting Sponsor: $25,00
  2. Platinum Sponsor: $15,000
  3. Gold Sponsor: $10,000
  4. Silver Sponsor: $7,500
  5. In-Kind Donations
THE CLIMB Sponsors:
Launch Pad Logo
Posner Logo