Published: Jan. 18, 2024 By

Deming is once again ranked as a top entrepreneurship program in the world. This time, for the trailblazing initiative Demystifying Entrepreneurship: Rural Colorado Workshop Series.

Deming Center staff

The Deming Center for Entrepreneurship leadership team posing with their GCEC award. From left to right: Jeff York, Erick Mueller, Brad Werner, Betsy Klein, Stefani Harrison and Katie Morton.

The Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at Leeds School of Business celebrated an impressive win at the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) conference in October 2023, when it received the Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education award from among the top entrepreneurship centers in the world.

Erick Mueller, the Deming Center’s executive director, was “humbled and honored” to be recognized for their work in advancing entrepreneurship education to Native American and rural entrepreneurs across the state of Colorado—particularly through the Demystifying Entrepreneurship: Rural Colorado Workshop Series (RCWS) program.

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“We’re thrilled to contribute our part in making Colorado one of the best places in the world to be an entrepreneur.”

Erick Mueller, Executive Director, Deming Center for Entrepreneurship

Working with the Communities

“Entrepreneurs in rural communities often lack the access to education and resources available in more urban areas. To do our part to help, we partner with rural Colorado communities around the state to help spur economic activity by teaching topics like customer discovery, marketing and finance,” explained Mueller, who launched RCWS with other faculty members with the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation back in 2015.

In the past nine years, RCWS has launched in eight locations, including Eagle County, Las Animas County, Logan County, Routt County, San Miguel County, Southern Ute Tribe/La Plata County and Western Slope/Montrose County. Each RCWS location receives a customized, five-year commitment to community leadership with the first two years focusing on turning ideas into businesses, the third and fourth years focusing on growing & scaling, and the final year honing the most important parts of a business.

Katie Morton, the Deming Center’s program coordinator, supported RCWS in the 2023 season, as the Deming team traveled across the state to Montrose, Sterling, Ignacio, Telluride and Craig. Katie states “as someone who has called Colorado home for many years, it’s such an honor to connect entrepreneurs across the state with resources from the University of Colorado Boulder. It’s especially rewarding to watch someone turn an idea into a business in these beautiful small communities in Colorado.”

The Deming Center Wins Again

Deming Center Program Manager Betsy Klein

Betsy Klein, Deming Center Program Manager, accepting the 2023 GCEC award on behalf of Deming during the conference in Dallas, Texas.

The Deming Center crew has won multiple awards from GCEC, the preeminent organization in entrepreneurship education worldwide. In 2021, they received the Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship Across Disciplines award for CU’s student-athletes, Buffs With a Brand program in partnership with CU Athletics and the Scripps Leadership and Career Development Program that was the first program of its kind to teach student-athletes how to profit using the Name, Image and Likeness legislation. The team also won the 2019 GCEC Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation award, for its signature High Growth Venture (HGV) Fellowship program, a two-year program that immerses a select group of MBA candidates in academic and experiential learning unique to growth-stage companies. The Deming Center has also been a two-time finalist for the GCEC award celebrating top entrepreneurship centers.

In addition to the GCEC awards, the Deming Center has won global acclaim in the 2020 Innovations That Inspire Challenge by the AACSB International for RCWS and the 2019 MBA Roundtable Innovator Award for their HGV program.

All Ideas Welcome

Although the RCWS program dominated the spotlight for the recent GCEC award, the Deming Center also offers amazing cross-campus offerings. Any CU Boulder student, staff or faculty member with an entrepreneurial spirit is invited to their inspiring programs:

The Innovation Workshop Series in collaboration with the College of Engineering and Applied Science dives deep into ideation, prototyping, marketing and finance, with experts on hand to help.

The center is heavily involved in the annual New Venture Challenge, CU Boulder’s flagship entrepreneurial “flight simulator,” giving aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to build a startup through support and mentorship.

Startups & Sandwiches brings seasoned entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and tech leaders together with students to share sandwiches, network and participate in a presentation, challenge or discussion.

Mueller shared a final thought as he reflected on the past few years: “We’re thrilled to help every student, staff, faculty, community member and more further explore their entrepreneurial mindsets and contribute to making Colorado a wonderful place to start and grow a business!”


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