THE CLIMB | Jake Jabs Business Plan Competition

THE CLIMB_icon_2022


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 for your venture!

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 renowned 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


Spring 2024 Cash Awards:

First Place – $10,000
Second Place – $5,000
Mission-Driven Award – $2,500
People’s Choice Award – $1,000

Team Eligibility Requirements:

If you are a participant of the TechUp Seminar Series and/or Access Mode, please start an application and select the “TechUp Grant” track on the first question of the application. For all other applicants: 

  1. At least one member of the team has to be a student (currently enrolled) at a college or university within the state of Colorado.
  2. Total sales and revenues must be under $75,000. (An official company tax ID number is required to receive award money.) Please note that we cannot invest in ideas using cannabis or any other goods, services, or industries incompatible with the mission of CU Denver.
  3. The concept being submitted cannot have received any seed/angel/venture capital (VC) funding before the application deadline. 
  4. Teams selected as finalists are REQUIRED to have at least one team member present at THE CLIMB | Pitch Night on Thursday, April 25, 2024.
  5. Teams selected as finalists 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 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 were chosen as a finalist 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 pitch video of your business idea or existing startup.
  3. A 2-3 page executive summary, including a one-paragraph partner agreement.
  4. Applications are due by midnight on (EXTENDED!) Sunday, April 7, 2024. Incomplete applications will be disqualified. Please email our team at if you encounter any issues on the platform.
  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 2024

Kickoff Info Session | Thursday, Feb. 1 @ 5:30 PM | View the Recording

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! Even if you’re unable to attend, register via the RSVP form to receive the recording of this workshop via email. 

Applications Open | Thursday, Feb. 1

Idea Generator | Thursday, Feb. 15 @ 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 7 @ 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 28 @ 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 | (EXTENDED!) Sunday, April 7

Practice Pitches (INVITE ONLY) | April 15-18

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 25 @ 5:30 PM | RSVP

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!


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

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:
Zaidy's Deli and Bakery
Colorado Health and Tech Centers
Posner Center for International Development
Cherry Creek School District
cyber sainik