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 $10,000 first prize!


Due to public health issues related to COVID-19, we are following the University’s event policy to limit the spread of the virus and keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible. While we considered a virtual format, we believe this community-building event series is best when shared and experienced in-person for both participants and attendees.

Please continue to check our website and social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for updated information related to events and programming.

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 19 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 physically 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 business idea or existing startup.
  3. A 3-page executive summary. NEW: Include a one paragraph partner agreement.
  4. Applications open Feb. 13 and close March 20. Incomplete applications and applications sent after the deadline will be automatically disqualified. 
  5. There is NO application fee! Apply by New Deadline March 20!

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



Applications Open | TBD

Validator | TBD

Join us at this Validator event to learn more about validating a business concept, and the best way to move forward with your idea. Meet with advisers and mentors to help with next steps you should take with your business.

Refinery | TBD

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 THE CLIMB alumni in attendance to help applicants polish elevator pitches, and prepare for submitting applications.

Applications Close | TBD

Spark Social | TBD

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, alumni, past THE CLIMB participants, and local entrepreneurs at our Spark Social Happy Hour to see what ideas might “ignite!”

Practice Pitches | TBD (Invite Only)

THE CLIMB finalists will practice their pitches to MP’s night class to obtain feedback before Pitch Night on April 30th. They will have a week to refine their pitches and presentations, which will be due to the Jabs Team the following week.

Pitch Night | TBD

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!

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 2020, please contact Associate Director Sarah Engel at 303-515-8503 or

Sponsorship Levels:
  1. Platinum Sponsor: $15,000
  2. Gold Sponsor: $10,000
  3. Silver Sponsor: $7,500
  4. Bronze Sponsor: $5,000
  5. In-Kind Donations (i.e. mentorship hours, incubation space, etc.)
THE CLIMB Sponsors: