FORT COLLINS — Decibullz Custom Molded Earphones, a Loveland, Colo.-based manufacturer, outpitched 16 other competitors to win the inaugural CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge business pitch competition on Saturday, May 23 at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center. Founder Kyle Kirkpatrick’s presentation to a panel of high-profile judges earned the grand prize of $250,000 in cash, six months of business coaching from EMyth, one year of entrepreneurship mentoring from Blue Ocean Enterprises, and $20,000 in equipment from HP.
“I am so honored,” Kirkpatrick said. “I plan to grow my business, and to turn this money into so much good in this world – to create jobs and make great products that make people happy.”
Decibullz creates earphones and earpieces that wearers can easily and quickly mold to the exact shape of their ears for a secure fit. This allows anyone to enjoy the music they love while doing the activities they love, according to Kirkpatrick; the product retails for about $50.
“Really, winning the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge is the icing on the whole experience,” added Kirkpatrick, a gymnastics coach who had been running his company from his home until now. “The Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge experience and the fellowship of the Fort Collins entrepreneurial community has really changed my life. I am so grateful to Charisse (Bowen, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship at Colorado State Univeristy) for reaching out to me to apply for the Challenge.”
The second prize of $25,000 in cash and $10,000 worth of HP equipment was awarded to GoSpotCheck of Denver, a software-as-a-service product that streamlines data collection, founded by Matt Talbot and Samantha Holloway; and the competition’s third prize of $10,000 in cash and $5,000 in HP equipment went to Fargreen, the winner of the Collegiate Track of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge. Fargreen was founded by Trang Tran and Tanmay Telang, who received their MBAs in the CSU Global Social and Sustainable Enterprises program earlier this month, and are returning to Trang’s native Vietnam to start their triple-bottom-line gourmet mushroom business.
All five finalists – including Pay Stand of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Community Funded of Fort Collins – will receive six months of coaching from EMyth.
Three CSU Collegiate Track competitors also won prizes in the Trolley Pitch competition held on May 23. This first-of-its-kind speed pitch competition on the historic Fort Collins Municipal Railway Birney Car 21 trolley car featured 10 collegiate entrepreneurs who boarded the trolley and gave a two-minute business pitch to judges before the car reached the next stop on Mountain Avenue. BAUS Tech won the Trolley Pitch’s top prize of $3,000; deYrd earned the second prize of $2,000, and TurfToes took third place, winning $1,000.
TurfToes was also recognized as the “Invest-In-Me” game champion, earning $3,000 and $2,500 in HP products.
“Our congratulations go to Decibullz and all of the Enterprise Track competitors. We’re excited about the positive momentum this win will create for Kyle and his company,” said Bowen, also co-director of the CSU Blue Oean Enterprises Challenge. “Our sponsorship partners, judges, and volunteers worked for months to create an event that celebrates entrepreneurs from around the country, and we are grateful for their support.”
Decibullz outpitched 16 other teams of entrepreneurs, receiving the highest marks from a judges panel of Brian Thomas, CEO of OtterBox; Kyle Hansen, founder of Kyjen; Catharine Merigold, Founder and Managing Partner of Vista Ventures; Greg Osberg, CEO and founder of Revlyst and former president and worldwide publisher of Newsweek; and Chris Hutchins, Sourcing Partner of Google Ventures.
A collaboration of Blue Ocean Enterprises and Colorado State University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, with major support from HP, E-Myth, 1st Bank, and the City of Fort Collins, the competition was created to ignite entrepreneurial spirit, attract and recognize the best new business ideas, and celebrate the Fort Collins and Colorado entrepreneurial ecosystem.
For more information, go to www.blueoceanchallenge.com
ABOUT THE BLUE OCEAN ENTERPRISES CHALLENGE
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, startups, and existing companies seeking funding and business mentoring. More information is available at www.blueoceanchallenge.com.
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 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 www.blueocean-inc.com for more information.
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 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 www.colostate.edu.