Six University of Colorado Boulder startups made pitches to a packed house of more than 150 friends, family and potential investors Thursday at an event that capped the successful launch of the university’s new business accelerator program.
Made up of 22 graduate and undergraduate students, the six teams were part of the inaugural cohort of Catalyze CU-Boulder, which provided mentorship, space and equity-free grants to the creators of promising new technologies and business ideas. Over the course of the eight-week summer program, the teams aggressively developed their ideas, products and businesses with guidance from local business experts.
“The progress they made through the summer was just amazing,” said Doug Smith, assistant dean for programs and engagement in CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. “While they all had great ideas coming in, many of them didn’t understand how to make a clear pitch to the market and explain what problem they were solving. But by Thursday, they’d all made huge strides.”
While several of the teams have already gotten a start on fundraising, the Demo Days event was a final chance for them to perfect their business pitch and make connections with potential investors. They even got help from audience members, who were able to contribute their $10 entry fees to their favorite team. The audience donated more than $1,200, with Shinesty leading the night at $325 and 65 supporters.
Each team had five minutes to pitch their product, outline their business plan and introduce their leadership to the audience. The teams included students, faculty and recent graduates of several CU-Boulder colleges, including engineering, business, and arts and sciences.
After their presentations, the teams met with audience members in the lobby, hoping to make connections with potential investors.
The College of Engineering and Applied Science launched Catalyze CU-Boulder in partnership with the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business and Spark Boulder, a student co-working space and “innovation hub” founded by engineering senior Fletcher Richman and classmates.
The program’s second year is already in the works, with plans for a permanent on-campus residence in the new Idea Forge makerspace in the former law library of the Fleming building. Smith said they hope to extend the program from eight to 10 weeks, and increase participation to 10 teams.
If you want to be part of Catalyze CU-Boulder next year, learn more at catalyzecu.com and submit an application by May 15. The summer 2015 program will run from June 1 to Aug. 7, 2015.