From music for the masses to flight simulation: CSU students pitch next great start-up

The Venture RAMS Business Showcase pitch competition brought together students multiple disciplines who vied for thousands of dollars in prize money. (Photos | John Eisele, CSU Photography)

Coming up with an idea is hard. Making sure it’s a good one is even harder – and it all starts with persuading someone else to believe in that idea as much as you do. 

Enter the Venture RAMS Business Showcase, an April 18 event where seven Colorado State University student start-ups (and one small business founded by an entrepreneurial local 12-year-old) faced off in a fast-paced competition for thousands of dollars in prize money to turn their ideas into realities. 

“Entrepreneurship is hard, and giving a pitch is hard,” said Scott Shrake, the executive director for entrepreneurship in the CSU College of Business. “It’s so inspirational to see these students putting themselves out there and trying to make an impact on the world.” 

Each team had five minutes to pitch its start-up, which was followed by a Q&A session with a panel of judges that included legendary CSU Animal Sciences Professor Temple Grandin. With a $5,000 check up for grabs for the winning team, there was a lot at stake – and the entrepreneurs had to quickly get over their fear of speaking in front of hundreds of people to succeed.

Learn about the ventures

Venture Rams: Business Showcase winners 

1st place ($5,000): Manley Feinberg and Gabe Torres, Music by Masses 

2nd place ($3,000): McKenna Petri, Fan Base 

3rd place ($1,500): Lauren Little, Lodgeit

Winner of Michael Best Most Promising New Venture Award ($1,000): Rachel Masters, De-stressVR 

Winner of Temple Grandin Business for a Better World Award ($1,000): Trevor Olsen, Captain Bob Flight Simulation 

Himes People’s Choice Award winner ($1,500): Elliot Matlack, Matthew Huntingdon, Ruck Moto

Student entrepreneurs take center stage throughout the day 

Scenes from Demo Day on April 18. (Photos | John Eisele, CSU Photography)

The Venture RAMS Business Showcase was the final event during Entrepreneurship and Innovation Day, an annual event co-organized by CSU STRATA and the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, where CSU faculty, staff and students – as well as alumni, business professionals and entrepreneurs – have the opportunity to share their ideas, and maybe even turn them into successful companies. 


CSU President Amy Parsons led a startup herself before coming back to the University. During her keynote address ahead of the Venture RAMS: Business Showcase, she emphasized that encouraging entrepreneurship is a key part of CSU’s land-grant mission.

“We’re helping to create new businesses that fuel Colorado’s economy and make a global impact,” she said. “Learning entrepreneurship will help serve students wherever they go.”

This year, students presented dozens of displays during the Demo Day poster showcase, where aspiring entrepreneurs from all eight of CSU’s colleges shared their innovative ideas, which ranged from special equipment for the wheels of robots used by emergency responders to a material made out of the root structure of a mushroom. 

“This is another great example of breaking down barriers across campus,” Shrake said. 

About CSU’s College of Business

The College of Business at Colorado State University is focused on using business to create a better world.

As an AACSB-accredited business school, the College is among the top five percent of business colleges worldwide, providing programs and career support services to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,300 graduate students. Faculty help students across our top-ranked on-campus and online programs develop the knowledge, skills and values to navigate a rapidly evolving business world and address global challenges with sustainable business solutions. Our students are known for their creativity, work ethic and resilience—resulting in an undergraduate job offer and placement rate of over 90% within 90 days of graduation.

The College’s highly ranked programs include its Online MBA, which has been ranked the No. 1 program in Colorado by U.S. News and World Report for six years running and achieved No. 16 for employability worldwide from QS Quacquarelli Symonds. The College’s Impact MBA is also ranked by Corporate Knights as a Top 20 “Better World MBA” worldwide.