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The Madden Challenge

The Madden Challenge is a quarterly competition where student teams pitch their business venture in front of an audience of more than 100 people. A panel of successful entrepreneurs, angel investors and business experts from the Denver business and DU alumni community act as judges.  Teams compete for a chance to win Best Sales Pitch, Most Disruptive and Overall Winner prizes

The competition began in 2012, when John Madden Jr., a local commercial real estate developer, donated $125,000 to Daniels to fund it. The family’s contribution provides the winners of the challenge with seed money to help get their ideas up and running.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Madden Challenge is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution course, an introductory class required for business majors that builds foundational knowledge in business and entrepreneurship.

The course introduces students to current technologies and requires them to use innovation and creativity to create a comprehensive business plan and a go-to-market strategy. Many students have the opportunity to convert their ideas into actual prototypes using artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain, crypto currency and more.

For years this course (previously titled Gateway to Business) has been among the most popular classes at the University of Denver.

Course topics

Students soak in traditional business content like how to connect with a customer, raise money and protect their ideas. They don’t just learn in abstract, though: all students have to use practical applications to develop their business strategy, all while learning about business ethics, financial and global business and the triple bottom line.

The curriculum jumps through the latest and most disruptive new technology out there: artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, 3D printing, extended reality, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things (IoT). Students walk away with hands-on experience using these emerging technologies and the knowledge to prepare them for a successful career. 

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