Two winners a first for Bard Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition

An eco-friendly online fashion retailer and a mobile app developer shared the top prize in the 11th annual Bard Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

It was the first time in the competition’s history that two finalists were chosen as winners. About 250 people attended the June 13 event and awards luncheon at The Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Denver.

“Never before has this happened — it’s the most fantastic thing,” said Madhavan Parthasarathy, PhD, director of the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship, which is part of the University of Colorado Denver Business School. “The judges couldn’t decide between them.”

Denise Horton (bottom photo), owner of, and the team of Rob Carpenter and Jeff Macco (top photo), founders of AppIt Ventures, each received $7,500 for finishing first among the seven finalists in the competition. Third-place finisher Joshua Pollack, owner of Empire Bagels, an authentic New York bagel store in Denver, won $2,500. The remaining four finalists each received $1,000.

Horton said she worked in corporate marketing for many years before making a “life-changing” move into business studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder and entrepreneurship with Boulder Digital Works.

“I’m very proud to be an alumni of CU,” she said. “And to have the support of the Denver entrepreneurial community, the judges and all of the people at the Bard Center, I can’t thank you enough.”

She said she was driven to start an eco-friendly retailer after learning that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter worldwide behind big oil and is the second-largest consumer of water behind agriculture.

“I found over 250 designers that I think are high-caliber fashion e-commerce sites … designing products locally with sustainable fabrics,” Horton said. Her e-commerce business is targeted to reach $1 million in revenue by 2016.

Macco and Carpenter’s AppIt Ventures has already booked $33,000 in sales. Macco, who took his first Bard Center class in 2008 and graduated this spring, said AppIt is a mobile app developer that provides low-cost solutions to get app ideas off the ground.


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