Seven teams of entrepreneurs from across campus pitched their innovative startups to a packed house at the Dairy Arts Center on Thursday.
And we do mean packed. Even after opening up an additional 100 tickets the week of the event, we still had to turn people away at the door so we didn’t violate fire codes. It was a great show of support from the campus and Boulder community, and we couldn’t be happier about the fifth installment of our Catalyze CU Demo Day.
Catalyze CU is a 10-week summer business accelerator program open to all CU Boulder students, faculty and staff. This year’s teams came from all across campus, including engineering, business and communications, and all eligible groups were represented. Startups ranged from educational technology, and connected devices to natural foods and social impact – all the things that Boulder and CU do best.
For the first time, a majority of the founders this year were women. Two of these founders gave standout presentations Thursday, with Engineering Plus graduate Zoe Welz giving an impassioned pitch for a new electric fence that can help lessen the environmental impacts of livestock grazing, and computer science PhD student Layne Hubbard weaving the story of how a stuffed zebra can help language development in children.
Another highlight of the evening was the keynote from Zayo Group founder Dan Caruso, who set the stage for why Boulder is such a mecca for entrepreneurship and the important role CU plays in this ecosystem. Zayo has been a huge supporter of Catalyze, from providing mentors to hosting networking events for the team members, and Dan’s enthusiasm was the icing on the cake of a great summer program.
This was my first year as Director of Entrepreneurship for CU Engineering, and I was in awe of all of the talented Catalyze team members. They all took full advantage of the opportunities for high-touch mentoring with Boulder entrepreneurs, as well as leadership development. Not everyone came in with a working prototype, but everyone was able to show one off on Thursday night.
In February, we will open applications for the 2019 summer program. If you have an idea for a startup, we hope you will put together a team and apply. And it doesn’t have to be a tech startup! If you’ve got an idea for a non-profit, you’re still going to need a business plan – and we’re help to help. You can reserve time to meet and discuss your idea here.
We also provide living expenses for any founder who commits to working on their venture full-time for the duration of the program. Our goal is to create a program for anyone who is passionate about a business idea and is committed to creating something that has an impact in the world.
Kyle Judah is the Director of Entrepreneurship for the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He is primarily responsible for connecting the college to the larger entrepreneurial community across campus, the Boulder community and the state.