The Diamond Challenge is run by Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware to empower the next generation to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. Learn more about why over 4,000 students have engaged with us!
Do you want to compete?
Rounds of the Diamond Challenge
Live and Virtual Pitch Preliminary Round
All semifinalist teams will receive cash prize awards and an invitation to travel to the University of Delaware to compete in the semifinal round. Top prizes include additional funding that may be used to support the team’s venture or serve as a scholarship for higher education.
Top Prize Awards
A package worth over $11,000 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
A package worth over $7,000 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
A package worth over $3,500 in prizes, including semifinalist award and any travel support awarded
Eligibility & Cost
If you want to participate, you must be a high school student typically between the ages of 14-18.
Free to Compete
The Diamond Challenge is a completely free competition to students all around the world.
If the primary purpose is to solve a customer problem that by doing so will generate revenue and profit, then the business concept competition is right for you.The business concept competition focuses on the development and validation of new business models.
If the primary purpose is to solve a social problem and make a positive impact on people or the environment, then the social innovation competition is right for you.The social innovation competition focuses on the development of new, social innovation models that may include revenue-generating nonprofit organizations and mission-driven, for-profit ventures.
Based on your competition track selection, if there is not a pitch site near you, you will pitch virtually by recording a video of your team and submitting it using our online portal.
Based on your competition track selection, if there is a pitch site near you, you will pitch live in front of judges.
Student teams are required to submit no longer than a 5-page written concept.
Student teams are required to submit a pitch deck.
Virtual participants will submit a video pitch. Live participants will present an in person pitch.
Over 35 countries and 25 states have participated. Click on a location to learn more about our pitch site partners.
Diamond Challenge Submissions Open
Register your team and find an advisor!
Diamond Challenge Submissions Close
Submit your written concept & slide deck!
January 12 – 29
Diamond Challenge Judging Window
Online Diamond Challenge judges will review participant submissions and determine who moves on to virtual and live pitching.
February 8 – March 18
Live and Virtual Pitching
Students pitch live at pitch sites around the world or record their video pitches and submit them online for review.
April 11 – 13
Diamond Challenge Youth Entrepreneurship Summit
Semifinalist and finalist teams pitch live at the University of Delaware, while students and educators from all around the world come together to engage in entrepreneurship through mentoring sessions, workshops, speakers, panels, and more.
BUSINESS CONCEPT COMPETITION
Kei Kojima and Kotaro Kojima (USA)
A wearable acoustic object recognition system designed to increase awareness of the surrounding environment.
2nd Place (TIE)
Ruth-Ann Armstrong, Daniel Chatani, Nathaniel Christie and Gaurnett Flowers (Jamaica)
A mobile and web application that facilitates simple and easy self-service at supermarkets, eliminating long lines for customers and reducing running costs for supermarkets.
2nd Place (TIE)
Nishka Ayyar and Riya Gupta (USA)
A peer-to-peer party wear rental marketplace for teen girls to rent and lend gently used formal dresses and accessories from each other’s closets.
SOCIAL VENTURE COMPETITION
Haley Catton, Isabella Liu, Stash Pomichter, Andrew Yates (USA)
A social impact incubator for teen social entrepreneurs that provides services and education on developing business in a sustainable way.
Lucy Liu, Jack Sun, Jason Ye and Amy Zhong (USA)
A website application, will allow volunteers to track and consolidate volunteer hours in an organization.
Kelly Landis and Sierra RyanWallick (USA)
A teen-led organization whose members hand-make and sell items at local community events, donating 100% of the money to charity.
BUSINESS CONCEPT COMPETITION
Nathan Wagener, Gabriel Werner (USA)
A ball pump that allows the needle to retract back into the pump, preventing the needle from being lost or damaged. This aims to save athletes time from last minute needle replacement runs, as well as money.
Philip Lee, Julian Davis, Rostam Reifschneider (USA)
A windshield that diffracts sun glare by adjusting color and brightness to counteract the fluctuation in levels of UV light.
Aditya Ganapathi, David Hou (USA)
A unique security company that offers two products: one to address women’s safety and another to revolutionize the in-home monitoring assets.
SOCIAL VENTURE COMPETITION
Ludmila Zgurean, Vladlen Grecu, Daniela Tihon, and Victoria Bradescu (Moldova)
A website where migrant workers from Moldova can find and pay local youth helpers to assist elderly family members with chores, solving two problems: youth unemployment and the impact of migration on family left behind.
Nicole Birkner, Diego Uribe (Costa Rica)
A service that provides the consumer with a soda that utilizes the benefits and avoids the disadvantages of traditional sodas by blending healthy ingredients such as fruits and agave nectar.
Michael Chan, Emily Yu (USA)
A web-based service that creates a network of college students, allowing high school seniors moving onto higher education to ask for genuine advice, information regarding their major, or simply about student life on campus.
Shreyas Parab, Sriram Hathwar (USA)
Spell for Success
Their concept is an app that helps spellers prepare for the National Spelling Bee. It aims to provide spellers with the resources they need to win the highly coveted Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Jackline Ndungu, Elizabeth Ngure, Margaret Gitau, Margaret Njunguna (Kenya)
Value Addition for Short-Seasoned Foods
This concept addresses the low profits in agricultural businesses that has led to inadequate food supply, as farmers opt for other types of crops. They aim to increase profitability by adding value to short-season foods.
Eva Dickerson, Felix Munther, Kierian Prince (USA)
Enkel Tech is an app development company that provides users with crowdsourced wait times to local restaurants.
Evelina Bunici, Ludmilla Zgurean, Maria Mogildea (Moldova)
Modern Reflections creates cool, comfortable, everyday clothing and accessories with the added benefit of reflectivity. The pieces can be seen up to 70 meters away at night, which helps prevent pedestrian traffic accidents. They also support families whose lives have been heavily impacted by these accidents.
Devon O’Dwyer, Payas Parab, Raylin Xu (USA)
An interactive, online tutoring program to be sold to private schools that connects high-achieving students and students seeking extra support within a school.
Andreas Elterich, Jakub Simacek (USA)
Second Rate Studios
Second Rate Studios produces a real-time strategy (RTS) video game titled Protect Your Planet that is simple, yet tough to master, similar to chess.
Tamara Ceaicovschi, Tudor Petrici (Moldova)
Bike Now is a bike shop on wheels. They will sell, rent, and repair bikes using a van in order to service the remote areas of Moldova. They will also organize bike rides and biking events.
Brian Mwangi, Michael Wahome, Stephen Otieno, Steve Gitahi (Kenya)
Huma-Coal is a long-burning processed pellets made from human waste. Production of these pellets would offset the deforestation taking place in Kenya, where trees are cut down to make charcoal for heating and cooking.
Devin Deloach, Jenna Stevens, Tyler Butler, Emily Nichols (USA)
Raven Eyes offers students professional quality, lab-produced portraits, sports pictures, and student life photos at an affordable price.
Victor Otieno Omondi Paul, Brian Mburu Mwangi, Mongo Andrew Caezer, Daniel Kioko Kitheka (Kenya)
Bio Flame: Waste to Wealth
The team proposed building affordable toilets that feed to a new biogas plant which subsequently supplies energy to new communal kitchens for the community. The initiative would also provide clean water, another scarce basic amenity in Kibera. The proposed project promises proper waste management, eradication of communicable diseases, prevention of food contamination and reduction of environmental pollution, all while creating jobs.
3rd Place (Tie)
Jordan Walls, Mark Wortman, Dhruvil Patel (USA)
BrakeLite is unlike regular brake lights because they change opacity of the color when more pressure is applied to the brakes. This helps to decrease the amount of car accidents, rather than the simple on and off on cars today.
3rd Place (Tie)
Fiona Iyer, Elijah Jabbar-Bey, Emilio Ergueta (USA)
Service with Perks
Service with Perks matches busy university students with service opportunities that best fit their interests and passions.
3rd Place (Tie)
Greg Szumel, Chase Conley, Luke Morgan, Roth Johnson (USA)
Academy offers a feature-rich web application with a streamlined user interface for students to easily access information they need about courses in their school, all in one place.
Rules and Judging Criteria
Student and Team Requirements
- Teams must be comprised of 2-4 high school students typically between the ages 14-18 (9th – 12th grade/form).
- Teams require one teacher or other adult advisor (18 years of age or older) who is in a position to provide the opportunity to participate and is broadly available for support. Teams may have more than one team advisor, however, only one advisor payment will be covered if they are traveling to the University of Delaware for the Summit.
- All members of a team must be actively enrolled for the duration of the Diamond Challenge and in good academic standing at their school.
- A student is eligible to submit one concept with a team per competition season.
- Team members do NOT need to be from the same school or location in order to participate.
- Only concepts that have been conceived by the members of the team may be submitted to the Diamond Challenge. If a submitted concept has also been conceived by members not participating in the Diamond Challenge, their full legal 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, pitch deck, and pitch video.
- Business concept and social innovation written concept 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. Submissions must maintain 1-inch (2.54 cm) margins and use 12-point font. All written concepts must be formatted as a csv, doc, docx, or pdf file.
- Pitch decks must be no more than 15 slides in length, with a recommendation of 10 slides. All pitch decks must be formatted as a pdf, ppt, or pptx file.
- To eliminate the potential for judging bias, teams will be assigned a submission number, which should be listed on the cover page for the written submission and the first slide of the pitch deck 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 constitutes it as a critical element of their concept. Questions about whether the school constitutes disclosing the school name as a critical element of the 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.
Competing Virtually: Video Rules
Competing virtually is an option for high school students from all around the world who wish to participate in the competition but don’t have a business concept and/or social innovation preliminary round event in their country or region. The submission is required to follow the same rules mentioned above, in addition to the following items:
- Recorded video pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes of recorded video. Teams are free to use their creativity as they see fit to best portray their concept, which includes presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), as well as display boards, prototypes, images, sounds, motion graphics, etc. All video pitches must be formatted as an mov, mp4, or mpg file.
- The recorded video must be a recording of team members pitching their concept.
- Teams are free to decide which members present.
- All team members must be visible from at least the waist up in the recorded video.
- Teams should consider making sure the pitch deck slides are visible in the video pitch recording. This task can be accomplished through a screen share or other technical means.
Competing Live: Pitch Rules
Competing live is an option for high school students from all around the world who wish to participate in the competition and have a business concept and/or social innovation preliminary round in their country or region. The submission is required to follow the same rules mentioned above, in addition to the following items:
- Pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes. Teams are free to use their creativity as they see fit to best portray their concept, which includes presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote), as well as display boards, prototypes, images, sounds, motion graphics, etc.
- Teams are free to decide which members present.
- Responses to the judges question(s) will be strictly limited to 3 minutes.
- Disclaimer: If you are invited to pitch live, and if you choose to use video/audio in your live pitch, not every pitch site will have the ability to project sound. Not all aspects of your presentation may be available to viewers as a result.
Judging Criteria: Business Concept
All written business concepts, pitch decks, and presentations (including responses to question(s)) will be judged based on an equal weighting of perceived feasibility and growth potential as well as taking “wow factor” into consideration.
Semi-finalists will be determined by averaging judges’ scores and equally weighting these criteria. Finalists will be determined by adding the feasibility, growth potential, and “wow factor” scores, thereby giving equal weighting to each of these factors.
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 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?
- 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 Innovation
All written social innovation concepts, pitch decks, and presentations (including responses to question(s)) will be judged based on an equal weighting of perceived social impact, feasibility, sustainability, and taking “wow factor” into consideration.
Semi-finalists will be determined by averaging judges’ scores and equally weighting these criteria. Finalists will be determined by adding the social impact, feasibility, and sustainability scores, thereby giving equal weighting to each of these factors.
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 & 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 & 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 innovation and how much will they benefit?
- Does the social innovation 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?
- Awarded for creativity, ingenuity, persistence, passion, storytelling and any other intangibles that are deemed likely to influence the feasibility and potential of the social innovation.
- The Diamond Challenge includes open session presentations and external review of business concept and social innovation 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.
- Incomplete submissions and/or submissions that do not adhere to Diamond Challenge rules, judging criteria, and terms and conditions will not be judged or considered.
- Not all students are guaranteed to pitch live or qualify for succeeding rounds beyond the submission round.
- If invited to a succeeding round, you are not guaranteed the pitch site location you select. There may be times where invited participants are asked to pitch at another nearby location.
- If you are invited to pitch live in the preliminary round, semifinal round, or final round, and if you choose to use video/audio in your live pitch, not every venue will have the ability to project sound. Not all aspects of your presentation may be available to viewers as a result.
- The Leadership Team for the Diamond 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. Rule questions and inquiries should be submitted to [email protected]