Entrepreneurial Challenge


Three winners of the 7th annual University of Northern Colorado Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge were announced during the televised event on Sunday, April 24, 2016 on KTVD Channel 20. The first place winner of the challenge was The Food Corridor, second place winner was NerdNest, and third place winner was Aerosol Devices.

Five finalists presented their business plans to a panel of judges at 9NEWS studios in Denver. Judges for the final round of the Entrepreneurial Challenge included Kevin Ahern, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of CIC Bancshares, Inc.; Kelly J. Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; and George Lobisser, Partner at MALIKY Capital LLC and former President & CEO for Pace International, LLC. Gregg Moss, business reporter and 9NEWS anchor, was again the emcee for the event. The winners received a total of $50,000 in prize money and business incubator services from UNC BizHub, the business incubator at University of Northern Colorado.

First place winner of $25,000 is The Food Corridor, a Fort Collins company and the first online marketplace for food businesses to find commercial kitchen space, enabling efficiency, growth, and innovation in the food system. Founded by Ashley Colpaart, the marketplace provides online booking, payment processing, disbursement, and reviews to match food businesses without adequate production facilities with underutilized commercial kitchens who have available space, creating an access economy in the food industry.

“We are beyond honored to win this esteemed prize,” said Colpaart. “We are thrilled the judges see the value in The Food Corridor and realize its vision to be the world's premier virtual food hub. Our startup team has been working tremendously hard and the prize money will be used for customer acquisition, product development, and general business operations. We are humbled to compete alongside the best startups in northern Colorado and congratulate all of the competitors.”

Second place winner of $15,000 is NerdNest, a Denver company founded by Raine Giorgio, all about female fandom. NerdNest is an innovative, engaging and fun social media site targeting female fans to create and share their favorite, nerd-based fandom content including photos, gifs, videos, and written content related to fandom. Nerd-based fandom can include specific geeky movies, books, television shows, anime, podcasts, or comic books with an obsessive following.

Third place winner of $10,000 is Aerosol Devices, a Fort Collins company co-founded by Pat Keady, maker of an advanced scientific instrument for the collection of airborne particles for physical, chemical, and biological analysis. Aerosol Devices is bringing advanced aerosol collector technology to market to create better samples for better analysis in the lab.

“Our participation in the Entrepreneurial Challenge helped us formalize our business plan and refine our pitch to more effectively share our passion and vision for our advanced aerosol particle collector,” explained Keady. “In return, we received valuable feedback from the judges, greater exposure for our startup, and new networking opportunities. We will use the prize money for marketing activities to increase product awareness and accelerate sales. We plan to develop training videos and participate in two targeted exhibitions, one in China and one in the US. We are very grateful to UNC and the Monfort family for giving us this incredible opportunity.”

Two other companies, mcSquares a Broomfield company founded by Anthony Franco, maker of a portable dry erase board, designed to foster innovation through collaboration, and Planting Profits™, a Masonville company founded by Gary Schneider that provides an online application to mathematically optimize and identify the most profitable combination of crops for farmers, also presented as finalists at the event.

Generous partners and supporters of the Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge include, 9News, BizWest, and Colorado Lending Source.

To learn more about the finalists who competed in this year’s challenge, visit their respective websites.

We Appreciate our Generous Partners