UCCS team wins first place at Lion’s Den Pitch Night

Eight teams of students from UCCS, Colorado College, United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and Pikes Peak State College pitched competing entrepreneurial ideas at the Lion’s Den Pitch Night on March 16, with a UCCS team claiming first place. The event was hosted by the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization (EPIIC) and sponsored by Goat Patch Brewing Company.

The Shark Tank-inspired competition consisted of the teams presenting their business ideas for five minutes followed by a five-minute Q&A session with the five-judge panel. There was $5,000 in prize money, with $3,000 awarded to the first place winner, $1,500 to second place and $500 to the third.

“The Lion’s Den Pitch Night is one of the most exciting platforms we offer through EPIIC. A combination of networking, public speaking, collaboration and sales creates a unique experience for these student entrepreneurs. Add in the prize money and the pressure is on,” said Luke Doster, EPIIC Program and Outreach Administrator.

The winning business idea, pitched by College of Business graduate student Jeffrey Hong, was Hermes’ Signal, a cloud-based technology solution for protecting first responders on the roadway while also alerting other motorists about incoming emergency vehicles so that first responders can get to the emergency as fast as possible without delays. By tying in with existing city infrastructure and with connected devices that drivers are already using such as navigation apps, insurance apps, connected vehicles and fleet vehicle solutions, Hermes’ Signal can retime traffic signals from the moment a call is dispatched to clear traffic queues while also notifying motorists through their apps and connected vehicle technology.

The second place winner, pitched by a USAFA team, was Auto-Tourniquet, described as “the easier, better, faster way to save lives. Anyone can use our revolutionary product to apply a life-saving tourniquet, all at the press of a button.”

Third place went to a team from Colorado College for their Outpost Ltd. pitch, which “specializes in offering refill stations for consumers to refill commonly used goods like hand soap, dish and laundry detergent with the goal being to reduce plastic waste.”

“Winning this competition has been a great validation for me that combining my hobby, career, and education is possible,” Hong said. “I am a volunteer firefighter/EMT, a program manager at Parsons and a grad student on the MBA Innovation Management track at UCCS. 10 years ago, I won the Samsung Mobile App Academy as a high school student, writing about an idea also related to vehicle safety, called ‘Dash’Corder’ – here I am 10 years later still pitching roadway safety ideas, but now with experience as both a first responder and someone who works in the technology solutions space.”

Lion’s Den Pitch Night started in 2016 and took place annually until 2019, after which it was paused due to COVID. This year’s event is the first since, with plans to return to an annual schedule each spring semester. The initiative is “intended to provide a platform for student entrepreneurs to pitch their business ventures to the COS community and a panel of experienced judges.”

The judging panel consisted of Strings Kozisek, CEO of Tekumo and Serial Entrepreneur, Lauren Hallaron, Director of Alternativ Global Entrepreneurs and Instructor of Business, Government and Society at UCCS, Captain Eric Fonnesbeck, Instructor of Management at the USAFA and Harvard Business School MBA, Flávia Kubricht, International Relations Expert and Serial Entrepreneur, Dennis Natali, Professor of Business at Pikes Peak State College, Executive Business Coach for Club Q Leadership and Board Member for the National Institute for Social Impact.

“This was a great opportunity for local area schools to get together and collaborate,” Hong noted. “Thank you to UCCS for hosting the event and for USAFA, Pikes Peak College, and Colorado College for attending. The mindset entrepreneurs take to add value for others encompasses the spirit of innovation that our society is built upon.”


The University of Colorado’s El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization (EPIIC) was created in 2008 at The University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). EPIIC operates as a mediation point to establish a relationship among high-tech companies, entrepreneurs, community leaders, the University of Colorado and the El Pomar Foundation. The institute aims to facilitate the early development of new ideas and products and aid people in taking their ideas to market, and believes that connecting academia with the business community and with the local, state, and federal government, will provide short- and long-term benefits to Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. Learn more about EPIIC online.

About the UCCS College of Business

The College of Business was established in 1965 and has more than 1,300 undergraduates and 350 MBA students. The College of Business and Administration awards the Bachelor of Science in Business and Bachelor of Innovation degrees. The Graduate School of Business Administration awards the Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Accounting and Executive Doctor of Business Administration degrees. More than 10,000 alumni of the College of Business live and work around the world. Learn more about the College of Business at UCCS.