“Growing up, I always wanted to be a fashion designer,” says Cybelle Richeson, a CU Denver student and Design Horizons fellow. “Now that I’m a bit older and understand more about the industry, a few things have changed. Now I want to create my own sustainable luxury clothing brand and act as a resource for designer brands by selling sustainable fabrics.” 

“I think coming to CU Denver was one of the most valuable decisions I could have made for myself and my career,” Cybelle reflects. “I’ve always wanted to be a CEO, and it seems like the Business School is built for students like me.” As a self-proclaimed city girl, Cybelle sees the value of campus being in the heart of Denver, surrounded by a thriving business community. And now that she’s plugged in to the resources of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, she’s discovered that the sky is the limit. 

Going for Gold with a Double Major

Cybelle is double majoring in Finance and Risk Management and Insurance, and she plans to graduate in 2022. She credits her path in business to her Grandpa, who was a very successful business man himself, her sisters, and her high school experience in the Distributive Education Clubs of America. She shares, “I wanted something that would always challenge me because naturally, being the youngest of five girls and an identical twin, I am super competitive. That’s also why I added the Risk Management major. It appealed to me because it’s a challenge, and because CU Denver has a 100% job placement rate after graduation for Risk Management majors. For me, understanding how to make money and manage it, in addition to the risks involved and how to measure those, was a perfect combination. Also, two of my five sisters have double majored so far, and I didn’t want to be outdone!” 

Finance and Risk Management have provided Cybelle the skills she needs to start her own company one day. “I tend to be pretty intuitive and have a good understanding of how people act, think, and why they do what they do in certain situations. Through my time at CU Denver, I’ve learned how to make money, manage it, and run a profitable business. Those metrics went way over my head, but now that I am nearly done with my degree, I have that understanding that was missing. I’ve learned how to predict future sales, and how to create a budget, and how to manage your money wisely. This is incredibly important to the success of my company as these did not come easily to me, and I am thankful that I have a good understanding from my majors now, so that I will be able to apply them in my company.” 

Choosing CU Denver and Making it Home

When Cybelle originally applied to CU Denver, she intended to transfer to a larger university after her first two years. Now, she’s very glad she has chosen to stay at CU Denver. She’s had the opportunity to attend events and meet guest speakers she would not otherwise have had the chance to connect with at a larger university. “Attending the CU Denver Business School has not only helped me build my resume, I’ve also had the chance to meet great friends and make important connections,” Cybelle says. She enjoys being around like-minded students and taking advantage of CU Denver’s downtown location.

Cybelle also feels that connections with her professors are a valuable part of her experience. She says, “they really push you to pursue your dreams, they really want to help you succeed and have endless connections to the field you want to work in.” 

Finding Her Place in the Design Horizons Lab Entrepreneurial Fellows Program

In Fall 2020, Cybelle joined the Design Horizons Labs Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, an immersive nine-month learning journey for undergraduate students passionate about entrepreneurship, innovation, design, and all forms of creativity. The program provides CU Denver students an unparalleled opportunity to develop a new creative venture, establish professional networks, and build leadership skills. Cybelle states that she has already learned so much from the program and met some of her best friends.

Cybelle has also had the opportunity to connect with local Denver entrepreneurs and ask for advice on starting her own company. She’s worked with Liz Giorgi, CEO and Co-Founder of both soona and Mighteor, and Aditya Batura, Co-Founder and CEO of Codomo. These two entrepreneurs successfully launched businesses right out of school, which is inspiring to Cybelle.

“I have been noticing a trend in the advice we’re getting from guest speakers in our program,” Cybelle reflects. “They say that in order to be a successful company, you need to start. Don’t wait until things are perfect, start now.” 

“I find myself constantly stalling and making excuses, because I don’t have a degree yet, or I don’t have any investors, or I don’t have enough followers on Instagram yet,” Cybelle says. “I always find a new excuse to prove that my product line isn’t perfect yet and therefore if I launch it, it won’t be successful. This was not the case for Giorgi and Batura, they just went for it! I’ve learned that you just have to jump in and roll with it. Even my mentors, who are well established in their industries, say at least once a session, “if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to get used to feeling like you have no idea what you are doing,” because most of the time, you are learning.”

Cybelle’s Advice for Aspiring CEOs and CU Denver students

“You are the only person telling yourself that you cannot do something. You are the only person that stands in the way of you obtaining your greatest potential.” Cybelle recognizes the importance of making connections in the business community by reaching out and asking them how they got the position they are in now. By making these connections, you will increase the chances of standing out as an applicant when applying to different companies. She believes that confidence is the key to success, and says, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself and chase your dreams!” 

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