Published: Nov. 18, 2021

Deming shined among the top entrepreneurship programs in the world for its trailblazing initiative for CU’s student-athletes, Buffs With a Brand.

Deming Center staff

The Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at Leeds School of Business celebrated an impressive win at the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) conference last month, when it clinched the Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship Across Disciplines 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 students across the University of Colorado Boulder’s campus—particularly through the novel Buffs With a Brand (BWAB) program, featured in Sports Illustrated.


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“We’re thrilled to contribute our part in making CU the best place in the world to study and experience entrepreneurship.”

Erick Mueller, Executive Director, Deming Center for Entrepreneurship

From CU Buffs to Business Buffs

“We were the first in the country to introduce a program like this, launched last year in anticipation of the pending NIL [Name, Image and Likeness] legislation,” explained Mueller, who helped build the BWAB program in partnership with CU Athletics and the Scripps Leadership and Career Development Program.

BWAB prepares student-athletes to take advantage of the new legislation that allows them to monetize their brand. Through workshops, videos, meetings and mentoring, BWAB gives athletes from across CU’s varsity sports the business know-how to create a venture or brand around issues that are meaningful to them. “Most importantly,” said Mueller, “it instills the entrepreneurial way of thinking, that will help them on whatever path they choose.”

And the winner is

Deming Center Executive Director Erick MuellerThis year’s win marks an award-winning streak for the center with the GCEC, the preeminent organization in entrepreneurship education worldwide. Two years ago, the Deming Center was lauded with the GCEC’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation award, namely for its signature High Growth Venture (HGV) Fellowship program. The center has also been a two-time finalist for the GCEC award celebrating top entrepreneurship centers, the Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education award. 

Incidentally, the CU Boulder Entrepreneurship Center for Music (ECM), the first entrepreneurship center in the world dedicated to the arts, won the Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship award last year from the GCEC. The ECM partners with the Deming Center to deliver the Certificate in Music Entrepreneurship.

Additional accolades for the Deming Center have been piling up in recent years. The unique Demystifying Entrepreneurship: Rural Colorado Workshop Series won global acclaim in the 2020 Innovations That Inspire Challenge by the AACSB International. The workshops transport Leeds business faculty throughout rural Colorado to teach aspiring entrepreneurs.

In 2019, the Deming Center’s HGV program joined the top tier of innovative educational programs worldwide with the MBA Roundtable Innovator Award.

The year before, Mueller was honored with CU Boulder’s Global Citizen Award for leading groups of students to impoverished cities abroad to learn about entrepreneurship from local business owners.

All ideas welcome

Although the BWAB program dominated the spotlight for the recent GCEC award, the center’s cross-campus offerings extend well beyond it. Any CU Boulder student, staff or faculty member with the entrepreneurial spirit is invited to the center’s inspiring programs:

The Demystifying Entrepreneurship 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.

The Now What? series lets student entrepreneurs from all disciplines sit down one-on-one with a legal or business expert who provides valuable advice about launching their startup.

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: “CU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is so dynamic and thriving. We’re thrilled to contribute our part in making CU the best place in the world to study and experience entrepreneurship. And it feels like we’re just getting started!”

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