Characteristics of a Winning Entry

  • Successful entries come from dedicated people who are PASSIONATE about their ideas.
  • SCALABLE, innovation-based ideas often find the most success and have the greatest potential to SUCCEED in the real marketplace.
  • Form INTERDISCIPLINARY teams – pair engineering students with art and design students; pair science students with business students.
  • The team and team CHEMISTRY are as important as the idea (maybe more important).
  • The best teams have DIVERSE backgrounds and complement each other, aggressively seek feedback on their ideas and are open to change.
  • They are great COMMUNICATORS and listeners.
  • The best TABLETOP DISPLAYS have samples of the product, pictures and words that communicate the essence of the business, plus business cards and handouts that visitors can take.
  • FRIENDLINESS at the booth is critical.
  • The most successful elevator pitches are delivered with CONFIDENCE and succinctly capture the need for the product, its advantages, underlying technology, entrance into the market and investment needed for growth.
  • Don’t memorize the pitch – talk about the business every day until the words come NATURALLY.
  • The written portions that score the best follow instructions on formatting, length and content. The entries are WELL WRITTEN, factual with appropriate references and show the team understands what should be in a business plan or model.
  • High-scoring videos are ORIGINAL and MEMORABLE. While the production does not have to be professional grade, the video should show effort and thought.
  • The best videos contain people acting naturally and HAVING FUN.
  • Teams moving on to the finals should carefully consider the regional judges’ FEEDBACK and use the one-week revision period to PIVOT or IMPROVE
    their model or plan.


Complete rules and judging criteria are available at