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 $5,000 first prize!


THE CLIMB is a business development event series and competition 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 educational workshops, mentorship, financial support, and real-world industry exchanges. THE CLIMB celebrates 20 years of guiding entrepreneurial thinkers to blaze their own trail and reach their peak potential.

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 community college.
  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 for Pitch Night are REQUIRED to have at least one team member virtually present at Pitch Night.
  5. The six finalists chosen for Pitch Night will be 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 3-page executive summary, including a one-paragraph partner agreement.
  4. Applications open Monday, March 1, and close Sunday, March 21. 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



Kick-Off / Design Thinking Workshop | Thursday, Feb. 4

Come help us kick off THE CLIMB 2021, our first all-virtual iteration of our annual business plan competition! Get to know this year’s organizers, mentors, and participants while learning how design thinking can be applied to strengthen your business idea. 

Validator | Thursday, Feb. 18

Do you know how to validate a business concept? Check out this virtual event to learn the best way to develop and move forward with your idea. Meet with advisers and mentors to help with next steps you should take with your business.

Applications Open | Monday, March 1

Legal Workshop | Thursday, March 4

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.

Refinery | Thursday, March 18

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

Applications Close | Sunday, March 21

Announcement of Top 6 Finalists | Monday, April 5

Practice Pitches | April 12-14 (Invite Only)

THE CLIMB finalists will practice their pitches to MP’s night class to obtain feedback before Pitch Night on April 29. They will then have two weeks to refine their pitches and presentations, which will be due to the Jake Jabs Team the following week.

Pitch Night | Thursday, April 29

At Pitch Night, six finalists will present their business ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of winning cash prizes. 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!

RSVP Here:

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 2021, please contact Associate Director Sarah Engel at 303-515-8503 or

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