Share This Article
The week of October 4-8 was Denver Startup Week, a celebration of everything entrepreneurial and the largest free event of its kind. Over the past five years, YouthBiz has worked to provide entrepreneurial sessions involving young entrepreneurs to the Denver startup community. This year’s sessions included a young maker panel that discussed digital marketing and a youth pitch competition featuring four youth-owned businesses. The winner of this pitch competition would go on to compete with the adults in the Denver Startup Week Pitch Competition Finals for the chance to win over $50,000 in cash and services.
This year’s Youth Pitch Challenge winner was Gabriel Nagel, owner of Light CO2, a youth-led nonprofit empowering individuals to reshape our climate by reducing and offsetting their carbon footprint. Gabriel participated in this event in 2020, but did not win. When asked why he wanted to try again this year, Gabriel said, “As I have learned through programs at YouthBiz, winning means failing the first time, or dozens of times, but continuing to pursue betterment. Last year, from the judges’ input on my pitch and website, I streamlined the website and completed programming for the personalized carbon offsetting calculator that helped me win this year.”
Throughout the month of September, all four youth businesses participated in several coaching sessions led by board members, business leaders, and mentors. These coaching sessions helped entrepreneurs shape their 7 minute business pitch and corresponding slide deck to best represent each business. The four participating businesses were Denver Snkrs LLC, owned by Garrett Eisenman, Mile High Freeze Dry, LLC., owned by Reina Crowley, Patriot Custom Finishing, owned by Aidan Holsten, and Light CO2, owned by Gabriel Nagel.
The Youth Pitch Challenge took place Monday, October 4, just two days before the finals on Wednesday, October 6. In the meantime, Gabriel worked to incorporate the judges’ feedback and fine tune his pitch length, in addition to practicing…a lot! On Wednesday evening, Gabriel took the stage at the live Finals event to represent himself and his company in front of both the live and virtual audience. Judges, audience members, fellow presenters, and Startup Week staff were all blown away by the poise and conviction with which Gabriel delivered his pitch. Many individuals approached him after the event to congratulate him and ask more questions about Light CO2. Although not a top 3 finisher, Gabriel was notified the following day that he had, in fact, won a $5,000 credit for Amazon Web Services. Gabriel plans to use these funds to help develop a scalable and impactful real-time carbon tracking and reducing app.
Gabriel shared that the best part of participating in Denver Startup Week was being heard among impressive and influential business leaders. “I shared my experience of how I was inspired to make a difference in climate change and my vision for Light CO2. It was empowering that I could convince other people that what I created was real. When I was presenting amongst other equally passionate adults, I felt like I had a voice.”
To learn more about Light CO2 or any of the youth businesses who competed in the Youth Pitch Challenge, click the links below.