Defy Ventures and Gov. Hickenlooper Team Up to Launch Inaugural Entrepreneur Training Program at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility

Nationally Recognized Non-Profit Organization Unveils Unique Platform to Help Incarcerated People Live Up to Their Full Potential

Governor John Hickenlooper coaches a Defy Entrepreneur in Training (EIT) at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Ordway, CO. (Photo: Business Wire)

ORDWAY, Colo.--()--Defy Ventures, an entrepreneurship, employment and character development training program for currently and formerly incarcerated men, women and youth, unveiled its first program in Colorado today. Gov. John Hickenlooper met one-on-one with incarcerated Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) to provide support, mentorship and coaching as part of the day long training event.

“It was great to see firsthand how Defy Ventures is giving incarcerated people the tools to transform their own lives,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “This program is a step toward lasting change for the men and women who want a second chance at life. We’re thrilled to have Defy here in Colorado.”

Today 78 EITs, paired with 50 volunteers from the business community, completed the Business Coaching Day, the first milestone of a nine month training program that culminates in a Shark Tank-style pitch competition and graduation. The Business Coaching Day consists of a series of group and one-on-one sessions that include powerful icebreakers, and coaching on business ideation, reentry plans, and resumes.

“I care deeply about the men in this facility and their ability to change the course of their lives not only for themselves, but for their families as well,” added Warden Terry Jaques. “Today’s exercise was emotionally intense and went far beyond offering readiness skills but more importantly focused on strengthening the mental health, self-esteem and aspirations of our men, giving them a new sense of hope.”

Following today’s event, the EITs will continue to progress through the nine-month MBA-like training which includes executive coaching, financial investment courses, startup business techniques, parenting education, character development, Shark Tank-style business pitch competition and an emotional graduation ceremony that is attended by cheering mentors, family and friends.

Defy Ventures was founded by Catherine Hoke in 2010 as a way for incarcerated people to harness their natural talents and business sense and repurpose those skills toward legitimate careers. To date, Defy EITs have built more than 165 businesses and created more than 350 employment opportunities.

“Defy is deeply honored to partner with the Governor’s office and the Colorado Department of Corrections to bring our transformational program here,” said Bob Omer, Executive Director of Defy Colorado. “We’re grateful to the Warden and staff at Arkansas Valley for welcoming us and look forward to expanding into other prisons throughout the state.”

About Defy Ventures

Defy offers intensive personal and leadership development, competition-based entrepreneurship training, executive mentoring, financial investment, and business incubation. By engaging top corporate executives, investors, and entrepreneurs nationally, Defy catalyzes broad scale personal and economic opportunities for people with criminal histories, and shatters perceptions of one of the most stigmatized and overlooked populations in America. Learn more at


Defy Ventures
Nancy Shloss, 720-988-0402

Release Summary

Gov. John Hickenlooper met one-on-one with incarcerated Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) as part of the Defy training program.


Defy Ventures
Nancy Shloss, 720-988-0402