CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is back – and needs volunteers

One of the nation’s richest annual business pitch competitions, with a grand prize of $250,000, returns to Fort Collins this month — and needs volunteers.

“We have competitors coming from as far away as Boston and San Francisco as well as from Boulder and Grand Junction this year,” said Christine Chin, interim director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, and co-director of the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge. “We are so happy to have all of our events taking place in the beautifully renovated Lory Student Center this year, and we will need a number of volunteers from the CSU community to help us make this a spectacular event.”

The Challenge kicks off on Wednesday, May 27, with the Collegiate Competition. Thirteen teams of entrepreneurs from CSU, University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado Mesa University will compete in the Cherokee Park Ballroom for $20,000 in business capital and a chance to move on to compete with 15 established startups for the $250,000 grand prize on May 29-30. All winners also receive business mentoring services from executives at Blue Ocean Enterprises in Fort Collins.

Trolley pitches ride again

In addition to presenting to a panel of expert entrepreneurial judges, Collegiate teams who don’t move on to the Enterprise competition have the chance to earn more cash and prizes during the Trolley Pitch on Friday afternoon. This only-in-Fort-Collins event, where the entrepreneurs must make their pitch in the time it takes the historic trolley to travel between stops on Mountain Avenue, was wildly popular at the inaugural Challenge last year. Imagine selling your business idea over the roar of the engine and clang of the bell in under two minutes – while traveling backward on a swaying streetcar.

Volunteers are needed for all aspects of the Challenge, from registration to helping out with the Youth Entrepreneur Show case on Saturday morning.

To find out more about all the events and to sign up to volunteer, go to blueoceanchallenge.com.