Competition

How much time will I need to spend working to pursue my idea and develop a written concept and pitch?
How much time you spend really depends on how passionate you and your team are about your idea and how far you want to take it before preparing your written concept and pitch. Working through the curriculum videos should take just a few hours, but putting your idea into action and preparing competition deliverables can be expected to require a minimum of a few hours per week for several weeks.

How should I choose which competition to register for?
Once you know what problem you want to solve and have an idea for a new venture, choosing a competition is easy. If the venture focuses on solving a customer problem, then choose the Business Concept Competition. If the venture focuses on solving a societal or environmental problem, then choose the Social Venture Competition.

Can I compete in Diamond Challenge more than once?
Students may compete in the Diamond Challenge every year during their high school career.

Can I submit the same concept more than one year in a row?
Teams may submit a concept more than one year in a row as long as they have never made it to the final round with that concept. It will be assumed by the Diamond Challenge leadership team that your team will have made significant progress on the concept you are resubmitting. If it is discovered teams are submitting the exact same concept more than once, they will be disqualified.

Are students eligible to receive college credit while competing in the Diamond Challenge and using the same idea?
Yes. Students enrolled in Dual Enrollment may use the same concept for both the Diamond Challenge and their coursework.

How do I start a team?
We recommend that you choose teammates as other students whose skillsets balance your own. For instance, you might have a team consisting of three students – one to focus on financials, one to focus on social media, and one to focus on graphic design. While this sort of divide is definitely not necessary, previous competitors have reported that a team with varying skills helped them not only with the competition, but with their ventures as a whole.

Can I have members on my team who are not high school students?
Your team must have at least two high school students. If there are additional member(s) who are not in high school, that will not disqualify your team. However, this non-high school student will not be allowed to participate in the pitch, receive official certificates or credits, or receive any prize money.

Can I compete on more than one team?
Officially, you can only be registered to compete with one team. If you or your team members decide to help another team in the background (whether that be sharing advice, editing papers, etc.), that is your call, but we will only recognize a student once.

Do we have actually create our product?
No, we understand that most high school students will not have the resources necessary to manufacture a product. However, we highly encourage teams to create a partial or working prototype of your product, though this is no a requirement.

Why do I have to compete with teams from around the world?
Whether you realize it or not, you are already competing with students and teams from around the world. Technology, trade agreements and other factors have created a global marketplace where we are all in competition for educational opportunities, jobs, commerce and capital.

The live pitch deadline in my country already passed. Can we still compete virtually?
Yes! Students can pitch virtually regardless of whether or not there is a live pitch site near them.

What’s the difference between the registration deadline and the submission deadline?
After the registration deadline ends, we will no longer be accepting new teams to enter the Diamond Challenge. You will need to have finalized your team, submitted all information such as email address, school name, etc., and provided us with the name of your proposed concept. After the submission deadline, you must have finished your written concept, a brief description of your concept, and (if applicable) your video.

Do I need to provide a video if I am not competing virtually?
No, but if you want to create one anyway there is a section for you to upload additional files, links, etc. Video pitches are only required for students competing virtually.

Do I need to provide a written concept if I am competing virtually?
Yes. All teams must provide a written concept paper.

Why should I participate in the Diamond Challenge when I don’t think I’ll win?
As Henry Ford said, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Entrepreneurship provides a level playing field where the best ideas and most resourceful entrepreneurs have an equal chance of succeeding. Moreover, regardless of how the judges ultimately evaluate your written concept and pitch, gaining knowledge and firsthand experience with the entrepreneurial process will prepare you for future success.

Can I make adjustments to my written proposal after the submission period closes? What about my presentation?
After the submission period ends, you may not make any adjustments to your written proposal. However, you are welcome to make updates to your presentation! (It’s encouraged actually, as you take into account feedback and continue to work on your venture!)

Pitches

How strict is the time limit for live pitches? Will we be cut off at the 5-minute mark or is there some leeway?
After 5 minutes, you will hear the timer go off and be allowed to finish your sentence, but after that you will have to stop. The same goes for the 3-minute question round following pitches.

Is there a dress code?
We suggest that at the preliminary events, semifinal, and final round, you dress to impress! Not only will you be pitching, but this will be a great networking opportunity, and you want to put your best foot forward.

Can we bring the judges a sample of our food product?
Yes, but please be prepared with nutritional information in case of allergies. Additionally, if you are traveling from outside of the United States, you may have to check with customs to find out how to make arrangements to bring food products into the country.

Do you have all the necessary equipment to display our PowerPoint presentation or are we required to bring our own equipment?
As long as you send us your pitches ahead of time, we should be able to load them onto the laptop that we provide ahead of time. However, we always suggest that you bring your presentation on a thumb drive just in case.

Can we bring another student to a live pitch event who is not part of our team?
Certainly! We would love to share the opportunity with as many students as possible. However, please keep in mind that if the student was not originally an officially registered member, they cannot pitch and will not receive any official certificates or prize money, meaning it will be up to you and your team how to split funds you might win.

Does an adult have to come with us? Do they have to be an advisor?
An adult must accompany ALL teams that have any students less than 18 years of age to an event. However, this adult does not have to be your official team advisor.

What is the pitch order? Can my team go first/second/third/etc.?
Pitch order is typically a random selection process, however, if teams have or express major time constraints due to travel or other commitments, the organizing partners of the pitch events may decide to take those in consideration.

Can we use copyrighted images, songs, etc. in our pitches?
Because the Diamond Challenge is an educational program, you should follow the same copyright laws as you would in a classroom – all copyrighted materials should be sourced via footnotes or end notes, and they should be used only to enhance your presentation rather than as the backbone of it.

Can I use Prezi, Keynote, etc. instead of PowerPoint?
As we have had issues getting non-PowerPoint presentations to work in the past, we HIGHLY suggest that you use PowerPoint for your presentation.

What’s the difference between the semifinal round and YES!?
The semifinal round will take place the day before YES!, and typically only teams participating in the semifinal round will attend. It is an all-day event featuring a few workshops and time at the end of the day for the semifinialists to work on their pitches before they compete for their spot in the final round. YES! is an all-day event that features workshops, speakers, a resource fair, and many more activities. The day ends with the final round of the Diamond Challenge!

Advisors

Why should I have my students spend time doing the Diamond Challenge instead of an alternative competition or program?
As the Unique Impact page explains, there are several aspects of the Diamond Challenge that make it a unique and powerful learning experience for your students. Three of the most important are: (1) it offers a hands-on, real-world learning opportunity, (2) it provides a state-of-the-art curriculum focused on evidence-based entrepreneurship, and (3) it empowers students by helping them to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and gain experience with the entrepreneurial process.

How should the Diamond Challenge be implemented at my school?
The Diamond Challenge offers the flexibility to choose the type of implementation that fits best with your school and classroom. The curriculum videos and instruction guides allow it to be tightly integrated into a classroom, used as a stand-alone module within a class or included as an extra-curricular or school club activity.

How much time will I need to spend to serve as an effective team advisor?
At a minimum, you will need to spend a couple hours reviewing the curriculum videos and meet periodically with the team(s) you are advising. The recommended commitment is an hour or two per week per team.

What’s the difference between a team advisor and mentor?
The role of team advisor, typically filled by a teacher or parent, serves to provide the students with support regarding the competition as a whole and helping them work on their concepts and navigating the venture creation process. Every team MUST have a team advisor.

Mentors are assigned to teams by us and are available to consult with the students to give them help based on their own real-world experience in various entrepreneurial fields. While working with a mentor is optional, many of the teams who made it to the final round in 2016 reported that they worked closely with their mentor and found their advice helpful.

Can I advise more than one team?
Yes, most of our advisors are teachers who advise multiple teams – sometimes their entire class – at once. After each team creates an account and submission in our competition portal, they will be able to add an advisor to their team. The advisor will receive an email allowing them to log into the portal and confirm their position as advisor for each team to which they are invited.

Judges

How many submissions will I review?
Each written concept and video pitch judge will typically review 3-5 concept submissions. Judges who participate at the live pitch events will review no more than 12 pitches each.

How will I review the online submissions?
Written concept and video pitch judges are provided access to our competition management portal, where they will find their assigned submissions. All review takes place online from the comfort of your own office or home.

Judges who attend the live pitch events are provided with a rubric at the event.

What is the approximate time commitment?
Judges who are reviewing materials online only can expect to spend at least a half an hour on each submission.

What are your desired qualifications for a judge?
Our most important qualification is that the judge has a solid understanding of the Diamond Challenge curriculum and what is expected of the teams in their submissions. Judges can come from all professions and backgrounds and have an interest in startups and entrepreneurship education.

How do I become a judge for a live pitch event?
Judges for the live pitch events, held both in the USA and international locations, are typically invited by the hosting organization. If you live near one of those locations and are interested in becoming a pitch judge, let us know by filling out the form below, and we will share your contact information.

Partners

How exactly can my organization partner with the Diamond Challenge?
The most common partnerships take the following forms:

  • Pitch location/event partners: These are organizations that volunteer to assist with recruiting students, local judges, and holding a preliminary round pitch event for the youth in their area. In the USA these have mostly been community colleges with entrepreneurship programs. Internationally, we mostly partner with non-governmental organizations working in economic development and education.
  • Content partners: These are partners who assist the Diamond Challenge with the development of the curriculum and competition content. Areas of specialty are within any topics valuable to young people interested in creating their own futures.
  • Strategic partners: These are organizations whose goals align with the Diamond Challenge. When sharing opportunities, together we ceate a larger impact. Examples include sharing one another’s program offerings and working together for high-impact awards.
  • Sponsors: Financial sponsors are the wind underneath the Diamond Challenge sails and help us to move forward with balance and speed to reach young people in a rapidly changing world with state-of-the-art entrepreneurship education. They enable us to create new content, provide meaningful awards, and often provide a talented workforce to assist with judging and mentoring.

OK, we’re ready to partner! What’s next?

Send us a message and tell us what you’re dreaming up. No dream is too small or too outside the box for our consideration. In fact, we love to dream and do together.

Mentors

What exactly is expected of mentors?
Mentors’ role is to provide feedback to teams as they generate ideas and form their models for business and social ventures. Mentors have real-world experience that adds a layer of understanding that students may not have reached on their own. Mentors are not meant to do any work for teams but rather to ask questions and provide guidance towards other information or contacts that may help the team along their journey as early-stage entrepreneurs.


What is the approximate time commitment for mentors? Where will the teams I work with be located?
The Diamond Challenge is open to students from all around the world. The team and mentor’s locations are taken into account when matching so that they will have an easier time scheduling with the same (or similar) time zones. Because of the virtual nature of mentoring, our mentors can also be from anywhere in the world!

Rules and Judging Criteria

General Rules
  1. Business Concept and Social Venture written submissions are strictly limited to 5 pages, not including a cover page. If a submission exceeds this limit, only its first 5 pages will be evaluated. Submission must maintain 1-­inch (2.54 cm) margins and use 12-­point font.
  2. Presentations will be strictly limited to 5 minutes. Teams are free to use presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint) as well as display boards, prototypes, and anything else they believe will enhance the impact of their presentations. They are also free to determine how many members will participate in the presentation. Responses to the question will be strictly limited to 3 minutes.
  3. To eliminate the potential for judging bias, teams will be assigned a registration number, which should be listed on the cover page for the written submission and the first slide of the presentation. Participants must avoid listing or disclosing the names of the schools they represent on their written submissions and during their presentations unless the school per se constitutes a critical element of their business concept. Questions about whether the school constitutes a critical element of the business concept should be directed to [email protected] prior to submission. Failure to abide by this non-­disclosure rule will result in a deduction from the team’s score.
  4. Teams must be comprised of 2-­4 high school students (9th – 12th grade/form) and one teacher or other adult advisor who is in a position to provide the opportunity to participate and is broadly available. All members of a team must be actively enrolled for the duration of the Challenge and in good academic standing at their school.
  5. Only concepts that have been conceived by the members of the team may be submitted to the Challenge. If a concept is being submitted that has been conceived also by members not participating in the Diamond Challenge, their names must be disclosed upon registration so as to avoid conflicts of interest among early-stage concepts. Businesses and social enterprises must not have generated more than $100,000 in total revenue prior to the submission deadline for the written concept.
  6. The Leadership Team for the Challenge shall be the arbiter of all rules and rule clarifications. The team reserves the right to disqualify any participants who violate these rules or the spirit of the competition. Rules questions and inquiries should be submitted to [email protected]

Disclaimers: The Diamond Challenge includes open session presentations and external review of business concept and social venture submissions. Participation is voluntary, and as such, participants are responsible for determining whether to disclose proprietary or sensitive information in their submissions and presentations. The University of Delaware and all other partnering organizations assume no liability for accidental or voluntary disclosures of proprietary information or intellectual property.

Video Rules

Virtual Track is an option for high students from all around the world who wish to participate in the competition but who don’t have a preliminary round in their country or region. The submission is required to follow the same rules mentioned above, in addition to the following:

  1. Video pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes of recorded video. Teams are free to use their creativity: words, image, and sound as they see fit to best portray their concept. Teams are free to use presentation software (final pitch decks must be in either PowerPoint or PDF format to ensure compatibility will all laptops), display boards, prototypes, and anything else they’d like to include in their pitches. Teams are also free to use creativity in editing their video pitches by using images, sounds, motion graphics, etc.
  2. Teams are free to determine how many members will participate in delivering the pitch.
  3. During the final round, teams will give a live pitch to a panel of judges. Following the team’s 5-minute pitch, judges will have up to 3 minutes to ask questions about the team’s social venture. The question and answer session will be strictly limited to 3 minutes.
  4. The Horn Program in Entrepreneurship’s Director and Manager, Youth Programs shall comprise the rules committee for the Diamond Challenge and serve as the final arbiters of all rules and rule clarifications. The committee reserves the right to disqualify any participants who violate these rules or the spirit of the competition. Rules questions and inquiries should be submitted to [email protected]
Judging Criteria: Business Concept

All written business concepts and presentations (including responses to a question) will be judged based on an equal weighting of perceived feasibility and growth potential as well as taking “wow factor” into consideration.

Feasibility

Feasibility refers to the degree to which the concept can actually work as well as the team’s ability to execute the concept and establish a defensible position in the targeted market(s). Several issues can be expected to influence feasibility ratings, including:

  • To what extent are the customer segment(s) and their problem(s) identified and validated?
  • To what extent does the team’s proposed solution appear to solve the problem and deliver superior value in comparison to existing alternatives?
  • To what extent are the sales process and other business model components specified, validated and financially viable?
  • To what extent does the team possess the skills and resources needed to execute the model or appear likely to succeed in securing necessary talent and resources?
Growth Potential

Growth potential refers to the likely ease with which the business can be scaled and the ultimate size (in terms of revenue and profitability) that the business may attain. Several issues can be expected to influence growth potential ratings, including:

  • How large is the served available market?
  • What share of the available market may ultimately be served by the business?
  • To what extent does the business possess an unfair advantage that will enable it to defend its position against emerging competition?
  • To what extent can the business model be quickly and efficiently scaled?
Wow Factor
  • Awarded for creativity, ingenuity, persistence, passion, storytelling and any other intangibles that are deemed likely to influence the feasibility and growth potential of the business.
Judging Criteria: Social Venture

All written business concepts and presentations (including responses to a question) will be judged based on an equal weighting of (1) social impact, and (2) feasibility and sustainability as well as taking “wow factor” into consideration.

Social Impact

Social impact refers to the extent to which an organization’s actions have a positive effect on beneficiaries and the surrounding community or environment. Several issues can be expected to influence social impact scores, including:

  • To what extent does the team demonstrate a rich understanding of the problem(s), and that it is informed by direct engagement with beneficiaries, payers/customers and others?
  • To what extent does the team’s proposed solution appear to solve the problem and deliver superior value (to beneficiaries and payers/customers) in comparison to existing alternatives?
  • To what extent are other business/social impact model components, especially the beneficiary engagement and selling process, specified, validated and financially viable?
  • To what extent does the team possess the skills and resources needed to execute their business/social impact model or appear likely to succeed in securing necessary talent and resources?

Feasibility and Sustainability

Feasibility refers to the degree to which the concept can actually work as well as the team’s ability to execute the concept and establish a defensible position in the targeted market(s).

Sustainability refers to the extent to which the venture’s revenues can be expected to be sufficient to maintain or expand operations and continue to deliver positive social impact for the foreseeable future. Several issues can be expected to influence feasibility and sustainability ratings, including:

  • How many people and communities are affected by the problem(s) and how severe are the adverse impacts? (i.e. How big is the “market” of beneficiaries, payers/customers and how bad is the problem if not solved?)
  • How many people and communities may ultimately be served by the social venture and how much will they benefit?
  • Does the venture deliver unique, meaningful benefits – both immediate and longer-term – to people and communities in a way that cannot be easily copied?
  • To what extent is the solution scalable and cost-effective?

Wow Factor

  • Awarded for creativity, ingenuity, persistence, passion, storytelling and any other intangibles that are deemed likely to influence the feasibility and potential of the venture.