How to win Big Idea: Pitch

The deadline for Big Idea: Pitch is right around the corner on September 30th, and if you haven’t created and submitted your video, now is the time! For those of you looking for inspiration we are going to take a closer look at previous winners, the judging criteria for the Challenge, talk about what you need to do to win, and give you some additional advice.

2015 Pitch Video Winners

World Citizenship: Team Rapid Response, Ireland

Rapid Response developed an application that will benefit the emergency services and help them to receive accurate, specific and reliable information when there is an emergency or accident.

Innovation: Team Lifescreen, Czech Republic

Lifescreen is new approach for managing windows. It allows you to take any window -> cut it up -> move each piece -> and set attributes like opacity, always on top and enables you to bind hot keys for manipulating the window. Beautiful animations give it a refreshing touch of future.

Games: Team Hoku, United States

We are building a casual 2D online scifi sandbox game where players command highly customizable ships in tactical battles. Players will collect resources, trade in a player-driven economy, and team up to competitively control various parts of the game universe.

2014 Pitch Video Winners

World Citizenship: Team Symbiote, Ireland

We are a team striving to make games that make full use of the interaction between Player and game. Making use the new generation of controllers, we want to get people to really play games with as much motion as possible.

Innovation: Team Mote Labs, United States enables you to share and watch YouTube videos with friends in real-time from anywhere. Simply launch on one screen and download the Remote app for your phone or tablet. Find a video on YouTube and then fling it to the other screen. Invite friends to your channel to sync video between screens.

Games: Team Sticky Bits, Romania

We are building a game that challenges you to do crazy things with your face!


Your Pitch Video will be reviewed by a team of judges, and each of them will give it a score from 0 to 100. They’re not just picking those scores at random, though! If you read over the Official Rules, you can see the judging criteria; each item is worth points, and the total of all your points is your final score.

So how do you get the most points possible? By making sure you cover every single one of the judging criteria items. We’ll go over the three sections and talk about what you should do for each of them.


The Concept section of the criteria is all about your great idea. We want to hear what you’re planning to create, and at the end of the video the judges should have a clear picture of your project. Here are the key points you should cover:

  • What is your project? You should try to give a complete summary of the basic idea of the project in one or two sentences, at most. Think of a headline in a newspaper: clear, concise, and to the point.
  • Who is your project for? Tell us about your target audience. Is it a game for kids? A game for adults? A resource for NGOs? A tool for farmers? Who’s your user? The more you know about your user, the more we believe in your project’s viability.
  • What makes your idea interesting? We’ve already got Twitter, so if you’re proposing a new microblogging platform, you’d better make it sound fantastic. What are your killer features? You’re excited about your project. Make us excited, too.
  • Have you done your homework? If you propose a medical app, you’d better have the medical literature to back it up. If you’re trying to solve a crisis in the developing world, we want to hear about the research you’ve done on that crisis. If you’re making a platform-jumping game, tell us about other platform games you’ve played, and how they relate to yours.

Pitch Quality

Your idea is important, but when you’re giving a pitch, the presentation is just as important. We want to hear about a great project, but you have to meet us halfway with a polished, clear and comprehensible presentation. Here are the two key points you should consider:

  • Be clear. We can’t evaluate your video if we can’t understand you. Do a test recording and then listen to it and see if the acoustics are reasonable. Last year we had a number of videos with echoes so bad that we couldn’t make out what was being said. Don’t be that team. And remember that all Imagine Cup contest materials must be in English. We’ve had to reject a few videos for not being in English. We’re not judging your video on your English skills, just on clarity, so get a decent microphone and go for it!
  • Be dynamic. You can just sit in front of a camera against a white background and talk; we’re not asking for special effects or thrilling transitions. But we don’t want to be bored, either. Get one of your teammates, and take turns talking. Practice a few times so that you don’t sound like you’re reading from a script. Get up and move around, if you have a friend to manage the camera for you. Keep us interested, so we can focus on the real star: your project.


The best and most exciting project in the world is nothing if it doesn’t ever come to market and reach the users it’s intended for. We’d be excited if you promised to cure cancer and send people to Mars, but we’d ask ourselves: can they really do that? Here are some key points to cover:

  • Talk about money. How will your project pay for itself? What’s your business model? Are you going to charge for the project, or will it be free and supported by advertising, or in-app purchases? How much will it cost to purchase, and how does that price compare to other, similar products? Do your research, look at your competition, check out different business models.
  • Talk about technology. What will you be using to build your project? Will users need any special hardware or software, and if so, how common is that hardware or software? What programming languages are you using? Do you have a client-server model planned? How will servers be paid for? What’s your target platform, and what features of that platform are you planning to use?
  • Talk about costs. You’re probably going to arrive at the Imagine Cup World Finals with, at best, a working prototype. You’ll have more development work to do before your project is ready for market. How much work will be left to do? How long will it take? How much will it cost? Be realistic about how much more time and money you’ll need to get your project to a finished state after the competition’s over.


Remember that this is just the rehearsal for the real challenge: presenting your project, live, in front of a panel of Imagine Cup judges at the World Finals in Seattle. Focus on that experience: you, in front of judges, talking about why you should be the overall winner in your category. Nail each and every one of the points above, comprehensively, and you’ll have a massive advantage over your competition.

Now grab a digital camera, mobile phone, or webcam and start your pitch - we can't wait to see your submissions!

Pablo Veramendi
Imagine Cup Competition Manager
Microsoft Student Developers

Comments (24)

  1. dinesh krish says:

    After submitting the pitch video,do we need to create a working model or a dummy prototype as same as our project??finals selection will be based on pitch video or prototype? please do reply! thanks 🙂

    1. Dinesh – you will have another two opportunities to compete in Big Ideas with the Plan and Design challenges! You do not need working software to compete until your National Finals. It would be ideal to take your idea/project through all of the Big Idea challenges so that you have a head start for National Finals! But you are certainly able to submit other ideas/projects if you like. Thanks for competing and good luck!!

  2. Ashish Singha says:

    Hello.. Pablo can u tell me where should I upload the video?

    1. Once registered for Big Ideas Pitch – all competitors can upload the video from their Imagine Cup dashboard:


      1. Ashish Singha says:

        Thanks a lot.. 🙂 🙂

      2. Eduardo Rosas Osorno says:

        I can’t see where am I supposed to upload ir :/ No option to do that

      3. Raul Vivanco says:

        I cant see the option to upload my video.

        1. Eduardo & Raul, sorry you are experiencing issues submitting. Please send an e-mail to so we can help troubleshoot your issue. Thanks!

  3. Sergey Gordeyev says:

    Will be any problem if pitch video is a bit more than 3 minutes in length?

    1. Sergey – the intent of the Big Idea: Pitch is to emulate pitching your idea in front of Imagine Cup judges or investors looking to fund your project. A well thought out and concise presentation is key! If you are 10-30 seconds over, it won’t be a big deal. But if your presentation is closer to 5 minutes, the judges might give you a lower score.

  4. Christaphor Goodermote says:

    I was wondering, how long is the judging process going to take?

  5. Piyush Yadav says:

    This is a nice event for kids

  6. Husun Shujat says:

    When will the results be announced?

  7. Results will be announced by the end of October! Good luck to all that participated!

    1. Anjan kar says:

      There is a problem , when I click the link video is not playing and the submissions are closed now . Please help me! What can I do now ?

  8. Muhammad Bilal Liaquat says:

    When we you announce the result of pitch video challenge.

  9. Sathyamoorthy R says:

    First we need to submit the Idea (3 min Video) before September 30.
    If that is selected, Only then we should move to Plan !
    Is that right ?

    1. Sathyamoorthy R says:

      Is this Contest anyway related to World Citizenship, Innovation (or) Game Challenge ?

      Or we shall straight away take part in World Citizenship, Innovation (or) Game Challenge from the Contest Page without submitting this 3 min video ?

      (I’m new here. So, need some help)

      1. You can participate in any of the Big Ideas contests that you would like and you can get started and submit to them whenever you are ready, as long as it is before the deadline. They are not required to participate in the Imagine Cup global competition, but they could help you get some great feedback for your project! Good luck!

  10. aakash lohan says: hey Pablo , here is a problem , when I click the link , video is not playing and the submissions are closed now . Please help me! What can I do now ? Link is not working

    1. Aakash – please send an e-mail to imagine@microsoft,com with your submission details, team name, project and video link.

  11. Ankit kumar says:

    Actually I participated in imagine cup 2016 but when I registered my team down below in contest it is coming “there no competitions for this team ” what shall I do now..

    1. Ankit – you must wait until your country has opened their Imagine Cup National Finals. You will be notified when they are open, thanks!

  12. Ashish Singha says:

    How do we know that result has been declared? Thank you

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