The New Venture Challenge, CU Boulder’s premier entrepreneurial startup competition, caps off its 10th annual contest on Wednesday evening by breaking new ground of its own. For the first time ever, five finalist teams will compete in the decisive round of the competition on stage at the Boulder Theater.
In front of what is shaping up to be a sizeable and raucous crowd, a distinguished panel of judges will award $100,000 in prize money to help the winning teams get their ventures off the ground.
Nearly 120 ventures took part in this year’s competition, which kicked off in September and has progressed steadily all year. Faculty and students from every corner of campus have explored their ideas, technologies and passions through the competition, many with an eye on reaching the final stage and maybe even beyond.
Four of the finalists advanced through a semi-final round before winning in their respective track finals, which were contested in Creative Industries, Research & Development, Information Technology and General categories. The fifth team advanced to the finals as a wildcard selection.
The New Venture Challenge 10 finalists:
- Beautibook: The winner of the IT Track, Beautibook offers a mobile application that acts as a recipe book to help the beauty community organize, share and discover makeup looks and products.
- Cannabis Marketing Association: CMA, the Creative Industries Track winner, is a professional trade association for marketers in the cannabis industry.
- HASEL Artificial Muscles: The winner of the Research & Development Track, HASEL is a robotic company creating the next generation of robots with biomimetic motion.
- Specdrums: The winner of the General Track, Specdrums has created an app-connected ring that turns color into sound, making the entire world of colors your instrument.
- Statehill: This year’s wildcard venture is Statehill, a database that includes legislative information from all 50 states, enabling a more productive and navigable legislative process.
“Our judges for the 10th anniversary competition are just another example of the world class community CU has in its backyard,” said Ali LeBeau Greenstein, director of the New Venture Challenge. “It’s a real privilege to have this caliber of judges at a university event. They always have unique perspectives to share about the competing ventures, and Jason Mendelson’s colorful commentary is always entertaining.”
The panel of judges is comprised of returning judge Jason Mendelson, co-founder and managing director of the Foundry Group; Abby Barlow, partner and director of Investment Research at Crestone Capital, LLC; Stephanie Copeland, former president of Zayo Group and current executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade; and Anthony Shontz, managing director of Private Equity at Partners Group (USA), Inc.
In addition to the finals competition, the audience will be able to vote on a special round of lightning pitches from four ventures, with the winner taking home a $1,000 prize. The event also will feature a Q&A session with Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group and co-founder of Techstars, and Dan Caruso, CEO of Zayo Group. Feld and Caruso also donated the $100,000 prize.
“Brad Feld and Dan Caruso alone are a huge draw,” said LeBeau Greenstein. “Add our amazing judges and some of the freshest ideas CU Boulder has to offer, and it’s going to be a memorable night. We’re already expecting a great crowd, and I hope even more will join us to relax in the gorgeous Boulder Theater, share a beverage with friends and enjoy the competition.”