Colorado State University and Blue Ocean Enterprises Partner to Sponsor Largest Business Pitch Competition in Colorado

The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge to Award Prizes of $250,000
and Business Mentorship to Winning Entrepreneurs

FORT COLLINS — The Colorado State University College of Business and Blue Ocean Enterprises have teamed up to introduce the largest annual business pitch competition in Colorado. The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge, a celebration of innovation, leadership development, and job creation, intends to award the winners a total of $250,000 and a year-long business mentorship.

The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge invites collegiate entrepreneurs, innovative startups, and existing companies seeking funding to pitch their businesses to a panel of high-profile judges from across the country. The competition will be a transformational opportunity for competitors to jumpstart their businesses with expert guidance and support behind them.

Fort Collins-based Blue Ocean, the competition’s title sponsor, pursues the entrepreneurial passions of OtterBox founder Curt Richardson and his wife, Nancy Richardson, by supporting promising business leaders through funding and mentorship.

“The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge focuses on identifying great ideas and emerging business leaders,” said Kurt Hoeven, CEO of Blue Ocean Holdings. “With a platform to evaluate business opportunities, innovations, and budding entrepreneurs, we could discover the next OtterBox, while building stronger relationships with entrepreneurial organizations and venture capital firms.”

The winners of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge will receive cash awards and participate in a 12-month Blue Ocean boot camp, which includes intensive strategy and operations planning and monthly mentoring. The winner may receive additional capital from Blue Ocean Holdings, an affiliate of Blue Ocean Enterprises, which has a proven model for building businesses and growing young companies in the Northern Colorado region.

“The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is much more than a pitch competition event,” said Charisse Bowen, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at CSU. “A series of activities and events for competitors will culminate in a weekend celebration of world-class innovation and entrepreneurship in Fort Collins, a city that ranks highly for start-up activity.”

The competition features two tracks, the Blue Ocean Enterprises Collegiate Challenge, open to undergraduate or graduate students attending any university in Colorado, and the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge, open to startups and existing companies in any industry from anywhere in the world. The winner of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Collegiate Challenge, which takes place on May 3, 2014, will receive $20,000 in start-up funding and compete in the main competition.

A panel of distinguished judges from CSU’s College of Business, Blue Ocean, and the national business community will select finalists to compete in the main challenge. If selected, companies will participate in a three-month business coaching and pitch consultation program leading up to the award ceremony – preparing them for success both during the competition and beyond.

“Finalist companies selected to compete are partnered with experienced mentors and advisors during the coaching period to develop their business idea and pitch,” Bowen explained. “That experience alone will add significant value by increasing the success rate for every participant.”

The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge event takes place at the Lincoln Center on May 24, 2014, the centerpiece of a weekend of activities that will showcase Fort Collins’ thriving businesses and offer opportunities for dialogue and collaboration, featuring brewery tours, industry-specific lounges at local restaurants, and other events that highlight the attributes of the flourishing Colorado business community.
More information for applicants, potential sponsors, and interested volunteers is available at

Key Dates for the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge
Oct. 16, 2013 — The Blue Ocean Enterprises Collegiate Challenge and Blue Ocean  Enterprises Challenge open for applications
Dec. 15, 2013 — Deadline for applications
January 2014 — Finalists are selected to compete
February-March 2014 — Coaching and Consultation with finalists
May 3, 2014 — Blue Ocean Enterprises Collegiate Challenge Awards Ceremony
May 23-25, 2014 — Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge Awards Ceremony

About Blue Ocean 
Headquartered in Fort Collins, Colo., Blue Ocean Enterprises was established in 2011 by OtterBox Founder and Chairman Curt Richardson and his wife, Nancy Richardson, to provide business mentoring, accounting, legal, information technology, real estate, and human relations services to its affiliated companies.

Blue Ocean Holdings LLC was established in 2011 by Curt and Nancy Richardson as an investment management company that commits capital to promising businesses and strategically invests in commercial real estate. Blue Ocean Holdings currently invests in more than a dozen Fort Collins-area businesses that employ more than 1,000 people and owns more than 400,000 square feet of commercial property.

About Colorado State University
Founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, Colorado State University is now among the nation’s leading research universities. Located in Fort Collins, CSU enrolls about 22,425 undergraduate students, 3,800 graduate students and 550 Professional Veterinary Medicine students, and has 1,600 faculty members working in eight colleges.

The College of Business is home to the largest undergraduate major on campus, with nearly 2,000 students enrolled in six business concentrations. Through a strong cross-campus collaborative initiative, the Institute for Entrepreneurship is working to help foster an entrepreneurial environment in every college.