About the Competition

The Diamond Challenge, a philanthropic education initiative by Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware, offers free open-access resources for students, educators, and entrepreneurship practitioners. Participation in the Diamond Challenge involves both learning from the pursuit of new ideas and the creation, submission, and presentation of original business and social venture concepts. All submissions and presentations are granted consideration by the Diamond Challenge leadership team which retains the sole discretion to interpret, modify or eliminate any of the competition’s rules, terms, and conditions at any time and without notice.

Application Requirements

  1. Teams must consist of 2-4 high school students aged 14-18 at the submission deadline. Each team is required to have one adult advisor aged 21 or older. While multiple advisors are allowed, only one can be included in the official team submission. Contact information, including email addresses, must be provided for all team members, including the adult advisor. Each student may participate on only one team and submit one concept per competition year.
  2. Upon initial submission, each team is required to choose a competition track (business innovation or social innovation) as well as a pitch round format (live pitch event or virtual/pre-recorded). Selections are considered final upon submission.
  3. Competition Track
    1. Business Innovation: a concept’s primary purpose is to solve a customer problem, that by doing so will generate revenue and profit.
    2. Social Innovation: a concept’s primary purpose is to solve a social problem and make a positive impact on people or the environment.
  4. Pitch Round Format
    1. Live Pitch Event: Participants can choose to pitch their project at a live event. These events are hosted at various locations around the world in collaboration with Pitch Event Partner organizations. Typically, events are held in-person though the determination of the event format is at the discretion of the Pitch Event Partner. A participant from a team must be present at the event to compete.
    2. Virtual/Pre-Recorded: Alternatively, participants have the option to compete virtually by uploading a pitch deck and a recorded video pitch for judging. This option allows participants to pitch remotely without attending an event.
  5. Throughout the competition, participants must avoid listing or disclosing the names of their schools unless the school constitutes a critical element of their concept.
  6. Only concepts created by members of the team may be submitted. If a submission has also been conceived by members not participating in the Diamond Challenge, their full legal names must be disclosed during submission to avoid potential conflicts of interest and/or potential legal challenges at later stages of the competition.
  7. Concepts must not have generated more than $100,000 in total revenue prior to the submission deadline.
  8. Concepts that have advanced to the final round (Summit) in prior years cannot be resubmitted.

Submission Round Requirements

To enter the Diamond Challenge competition, participants are required to complete an initial submission that consists of two components:
  1. Written Concept Narrative:
    1. Persuasive concepts can be expected to tell a seamless and compelling story about: the problem being solved, the customers/beneficiaries who have the problem, how the problem is being solved (i.e., a description of the product/service), why the solution is different and better than existing alternatives (i.e., its unique value), the basic economics underlying how it will make money (or sustain the social venture), the collective means of the team members for pursuing the venture, and any evidence gathered to show positive progress (or gaining customer-problem-solution traction).
    2. The narrative is limited to 3-5 pages, double-spaced, utilizing a 12-point font and a 1-inch (2.54 cm) margin. Cover pages are not to be included. Pages over the stated limit will be removed. All submissions are to be written in English. Documents should be submitted in a .pdf format.
  2. Introductory Video:
    1. A compelling video serves as a concise introduction to both the team and the concept being submitted. The video should present the team members’ names, the concept name, and a brief yet impactful explanation of the problem the concept aims to solve and the significance of the proposed solution.
    2. The video is strictly limited to 60 seconds. Videos must be submitted as a publicly accessible URL link. Videos exceeding the time limit or unavailable to be viewed will be disqualified.
    3. Written concept narratives and introductory videos serve as a submission requirement solely during the first round of the competition.
  3. Teams who participate in the submission round will be evaluated by a series of judges and must meet the minimum score to advance to the pitching round.
  4. Incomplete submissions and/or submissions that do not adhere to all Diamond Challenge rules, terms, conditions, and judging criteria may be penalized and excluded from judging.
  5. All materials are considered final once submitted via the online competition platform.

Pitch Round Requirements

Teams will select their pitch round format during the initial submission. Requests to change pitch event locations after will not be accepted. If a pitching round team is unable to compete in the chosen pitch round format for any reason, they will forfeit their place in the pitching round.

Live Pitch Event Requirements

  1. Pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes utilizing a pitch deck of no more than 15 slides. Teams are free to use their creativity as they see fit to best portray their concept, which includes display boards, prototypes, images, sounds, motion graphics, etc.
  2. Pitch deck submission format is at the discretion of the Pitch Event Partner organization.
  3. Judges’ questions and team member responses will be strictly limited to 3 minutes. Only team members who participate in the pitch are eligible to answer judges’ questions during the 3-minute question and answer section.
  4. While embedded audio or video elements are allowed, please be aware that technology requirements such as sound amplification and internet access are not guaranteed. If technical difficulties are encountered, the timer does not stop, and they will affect the 5-minute pitch time limit. Be prepared to adapt if needed.

Virtual/Pre-Recorded Pitch Requirements

  1. Teams will submit a pre-recorded pitch video strictly limited to 5:00 minutes. All pitch videos must be uploaded using a publicly accessible URL. Videos exceeding the time limit or unavailable to be viewed will be disqualified.
  2. Additionally, a copy of the pitch deck used must be submitted. Pitch decks must be no more than 15 slides in length. Pitch decks should be submitted in a .pdf format.
  3. Teams are free to use their creativity as they see fit to best portray their concept, which includes incorporating display boards, prototypes, images, sounds, motion graphics, etc. into their videos. Teams can decide which members present during the pitch video. The pitch deck should be generally visible in the pitch video recording (through a screen share or other technical means).
  4. Pitch videos and pitch decks will only be viewed and judged during the second round of the competition. Teams advancing to the final round of competition will have an opportunity to update their pitch deck.
  5. All materials are considered final once submitted via the online competition platform.

Summit Requirements

  1. Student teams qualifying for the final round of competition at the Summit will be required to attend in-person to compete. At least one team member must be present. If no team members are able to attend due to visa applications being denied or delayed, the participants may contact the Diamond Challenge team and request to defer participation. A one year deferment will be granted to teams; however, if the team is not able to attend in the subsequent year, they will forfeit their competition spot.
  2. Pitches are strictly limited to 5 minutes utilizing a pitch deck of no more than 15 slides. Teams are free to use their creativity as they see fit to best portray their concept, which includes display boards, prototypes, images, sounds, motion graphics, etc.
  3. Pitch decks will be required to be submitted in advance of the Summit. Pitch decks are required to be submitted via Google Slides with a publicly accessible URL link. The pitch deck may be updated at any time prior to the final round pitches as long as the link does not change.
  4. Judges’ questions and team member responses will be strictly limited to 3 minutes. Only team members that participate in the pitch are eligible to answer judges’ questions during the 3-minute question and answer section.
  5. While embedded audio or video elements are allowed, please be aware that technology requirements such as sound amplification and internet access are not guaranteed. If technical difficulties are encountered, the timer does not stop, and they will affect the 5-minute pitch time limit. Be prepared to adapt if needed.

Important Disclaimers

  1. By participating in the Diamond Challenge, you are granting the University of Delaware and its partners the limited right to utilize references to your concept as well as any images and pictures of you that may be taken in association with your submission and presentation(s) for promotional and other purposes that are consistent with a philanthropic education initiative.
  2. The Diamond Challenge utilizes a network of affiliated partners to execute live pitch events. These partners operate under a non-legally binding memorandum of understanding that compels them to make a good faith effort to execute pitch events according to uniform standards developed by the Diamond Challenge leadership team. These standards are intended to provide equality of opportunity while also promoting a positive and impactful learning experience for all participants.
  3. The Diamond Challenge includes open session presentations and external review of business and social venture concept 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.
  4. By serving in a volunteer Diamond Challenge role including but not limited to judging and mentoring, individuals involved affirm they will not divulge or utilize confidential information gained during judging and mentoring Diamond Challenge submissions or discuss with any other party any details of any Diamond Challenge submission that the individual is expected to judge/mentor. Volunteers will not copy or retain any materials gained throughout the Diamond Challenge experience, nor remove any written notice, material, score sheet, document, or part of any submission.
  5. Submissions that are considered off-topic for high school students may be disqualified at the sole discretion of the Diamond Challenge leadership team at any point during the competition timeline. Such topics may include but are not limited to: nudity or sexual content, harmful or dangerous content, illicit/illegal content, violent or graphic content.
  6. The Diamond Challenge team has the right, but not the obligation, to publish team content for promotional and philanthropic educational purposes. The team holds sole discretion to refuse or remove content from any media, with or without notice, for any reason.
  7. The Diamond Challenge leadership team 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 info@diamondchallenge.org.