Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge Announces Judges for $250,000 Business Pitch Competition

Note to Reporters: A complete list of judges is available with this release at

23 Distinguished Business Professionals to Decide Collegiate and Enterprise Track Winners

FORT COLLINS — Judges for the Colorado State University Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge, the richest business pitch competition in Colorado with a top prize of $250,000 and a year’s business mentorship, have been announced, and include successful entrepreneurs and investors from across the nation.

Alex Welch, founder of Photobucket and Lasso; Bill Reichart, founder and managing partner of Garage Ventures; Tom Cripps, member of the board of directors of Velco,; Catharine Merigold, founder and managing partner of Vista Ventures; Brian Thomas, CEO of Otterbox; and Greg Osberg, former president and worldwide publisher of Newsweek are just a few of the business leaders who will be making the selection among the 32 competitors in Fort Collins.

“The caliber of judges who are participating in the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is phenomenal,” said Charisse Bowen, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship at the CSU College of Business and co-director of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge. “I am really looking forward to exposing these power players from San Francisco and New York to what we are doing here in Colorado; this inaugural event promises to be nothing short of game-changing for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Colorado.”

Judges will be evaluating two tracks of 16 companies each. The Collegiate Track consists of companies founded by students from colleges across the state of Colorado, and will compete on May 2. The winner receives $20,000 in cash as well as a yearlong mentoring by executives at Blue Ocean Enterprises and an opportunity to compete on May 24 with the 16 established startups in the Enterprise Track for the $250,000.

Collegiate competitors will think outside the elevator car to impress judges with their uniquely Fort Collins “trolley pitches” on May 23. Judges will be seated on the Streetcar Named Inspire as it travels its historic route on Mountain Avenue, while competitors try to sell them on their business plan between trolley stops – roughly the length of an elevator ride.

The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge and Venture Fest also includes numerous events in addition to the competitions that are open to the public including an expo hall full of innovative ideas, a partner showcase event featuring a EMyth branding workshop; a youth entrepreneur showcase; and a closing night bash. It will be preceded by the first-ever Fort Collins Startup Week, beginning May 19.

For a complete schedule of events for the CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge and to register to attend, go to; follow @CSUBlueOcean.

The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is the richest annual business pitch competition in Colorado, as measured by its grand prize of $250,000. Presented by the Colorado State University College of Business and Blue Ocean Enterprises, the competition is a celebration of innovation, leadership development, and job creation. The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is open to collegiate entrepreneurs throughout Colorado, as well as startups and existing companies anywhere in the world seeking funding and business mentoring. More information is available at

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 the Richardsons 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 and owns more than 400,000 square feet of commercial property. Visit for more information.

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 currently enrolls about 22,565 undergraduate students, 3,900 graduate students and 540 Professional Veterinary Medicine students, and has more than 1,600 faculty members working in eight colleges.

The College of Business is home to one of the largest undergraduate majors on Colorado State’s campus, with more than 3,800 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. More information is available at