“I can’t believe you made this,” one person said to a student vendor. “This is so adorable!”

With the warm Colorado sun against the backdrop of a bluebird day, the University of Denver’s Entrepreneurship Week started off with a bang.

Each year, Entrepreneurship@DU puts together a jam-packed schedule of festivities, focused on innovation, collaboration and creativity.

Pop-up Palooza

A student running in a wooden hamster wheel at a DIY Snow Cone station on Carnegie Green

Pop-up Palooza was an opportunity for students to showcase their talents, innovations and brands. And these student and alumni businesses delivered. Over 60 student and alumni vendors showed up to the Carnegie Green, sporting an array of clothing, jewelry, beverages and other handmade goods. Droves of community members and students headed enjoyed free sausages and live music while perusing the market.

MK Barlow, a DU student, showcased her new brand, CLUPZ,which produces an inclusive bra for women with asymmetrical breasts.

“My main goal was to have four meaningful conversations with people, and I’m happy to say that I definitely had way more than four,” said Barlow, who will develop her product as a member of the new cohort of E@DU’s BASE Camp summer accelerator.

Barlow said she had a great time connecting with customers who vented about the quirks and issues they experienced with their bras.

For many students, Pop-up Palooza is an opportunity to showcase their minimum viable product (MVP) and receive concept feedback.

“I feel like, before Pop-up, I didn’t know what direction I wanted to take my company vibe in. But after, I know that my company surrounds such a sensitive topic for so many people. It needs to be fun, friendly, welcoming, and confident,” Barlow said.

Entrepreneurship Minor

 “I made $100,000 refurbishing golf balls as a kid.”

Ryan McLean, a DU alumnus and founder of Mountain Crust Pizza had the entire dining room on the edge of their seats. He explained how his entrepreneurial journey started decades before he stone fired his first pizza. Pokémon cards, golf balls, beer on delivery—his experience was far from linear. But today, he is the self-proclaimed “Michael Scott of Pizza” and is curating professional parties seven days a week.

A speaker gesturing to students seated in the Joy Burns Tuscan Ballroom

McLean’s trials and tribulations were a testimony to the entrepreneurial lifestyle. His anecdote was the perfect motivation for the graduating seniors in attendance.

The 2024 Entrepreneurship Minor Dinner was a celebration and an intimate goodbye, as students and faculty caught up on their entrepreneurial endeavors.

According to Cat Sepulveda, a graduating senior and entrepreneur, the evening was bittersweet.

“I was very emotional. I realized that even though I am not super close with everyone there, those are my people. The program has my back. It felt very much like a community,” she said.

Sepulveda has been involved with Entrepreneurship@DU since her freshman year, in 2020. Often you would find her floating about The Garage, running sewing club or working on her own creations.

Shaping Tomorrow: A Dialogue on the Future

Entrepreneurship@DU hosted its very own TEDX copycat, featuring five panelists discussing the radical shifts occurring in their respected fields.A speaker gesturing on a round red carpet in front of cut out E@DU letters, emulating a TedX talk.

John Winsor, a DU alumnus, author, and executive in residence at Harvard, challenged the audience to realize the transformation of the work model. He described using open talent and freelancers as the “secret sauce” to success.

“Digital technology has allowed the rise of a new class creators and freelancers by radically reducing the cost of production,” Winsor said.

His new book, “Open Talent,” dives further into the digital age for creators and freelancers. Winsor writes about the experience of Jimmy Chin, a filmmaker, photographer, friend and climbing partner he met when Chin was living in his car.

Chin used to have to beg publications to feature his adventures, Winsor said. Then, he would use a separate middleman to buy an advertisement to feature the article. But now, with social media and Chin’s 3,400-person following on Instagram, he can receive money on a sponsored post that goes directly into his pocket. This process shortens the time it takes to reap the benefits from months to days.

“Radical shifts of marketing materials have given Jimmy new opportunities. What we’re seeing is a radical shift in competition and who can do the work,” Winsor said.

Check out the full YouTube recording of the event to listen in on the perspectives of Murat Kucukvar, Susana Córdova, Claude D’Estrée and Chad Mcwinney.

Pitch Competition

With great anticipation, eight entrepreneurial teams shuffled into Marcus Commons with their tabling materials. In just under an hour, four esteemed judges would make their way around the room, taking stock of each entrepreneur’s concept, market validation and presentation.

Fourth-year PhD student Joi Lin and her business partner, Kristel Seibert, were feeling a variety of emotions as they set up. The two signed up for the third annual DU Pitch Competition to pitch their classroom management and financial literacy platform, Classopoly.

A student in golf clothing pitching an idea in front of a screen displaying pie chart with average scores of golfers

“We have been practicing versions of pitches for months, but buckled down for the DU Pitch Competition after we were accepted,” Lin said.

Earlier this spring, Lin and Seibert were accepted into this summer’s BASE Camp cohort. Their mentor, Professor Joshua Ross, encouraged team Classopoly to apply for the pitch competition to practice their pitch and gain audience feedback.

With eight strong teams and only three prizes, nerves were high. Lin and Seibert made their way onto the stage, last but least.

“We were so nervous! Confident, but nervous because we wanted to do a good job and make a good connection with judges,” Lin said.

After deliberation from the judges, Classopoly took home the first-place prize of $12,000. Fungi Joe was awarded second place and Helio third place.

“There were also several great pitches, and we were optimistic about receiving one of the awards, but we were thrilled that we won first place,” Lin said.

Lin and Seibert plan to use their winnings to further develop their idea and support their research.

“We are also saving funds for legal fees and to hire a CPA next year,” Lin said.

Team Classopoly, winners of the pitch competition hold a giant check with the price of $2,000 cash, $5,000 grant and an invite to BASE Camp