How To Win Big Idea: Plan

The Big Idea: Plan deadline is coming up fast, and if you still haven't written your entry and submitted it, now is the time to sit down and start working! Today I'm going to go over the judging criteria for the Challenge, talk about what you need to do to win, and give some advice. Don't forget to submit your projects from your dashboard by October 28th at 23:59 GMT!

Let's go over scoring again, just like we did for Big Idea: Pitch.

The system is basically the same for all the Challenges: your entry will be reviewed by a team of judges, each of whom will score it on a number of different criteria, eventually generating a score from 0 to 100. You can review the specific criteria for the competition you've entered in the Official Rules.

If you don't cover one of the criteria, you'll get a 0 for that section, and that will really hurt your overall score. The best way to get as many points as possible is to cover every single one of the judging criteria.

Let's look at the three criteria sections more closely to see what you'll need to do.


In the concept phase, we're looking for the overall vision of your project. You've got plenty of room in your document to really get your ideas across, even if they're complex or highly original. Here's what we're interested in hearing about:

  • What is your project? Give us the full story of your idea. In the Big Idea: Pitch, we wanted something short and snappy. Here, we want to know more of the details.
  • What's the goal of your project? If you're not making a game, you'll need to cover the problem, need, or opportunity you're addressing, and how you plan to target it. We want to be convinced that your solution will actually address the problem or need.
  • Who are your target users? The more specific you get, the better. We've asked you to create 'user personas'; you can read more about the Persona concept in John's guide to the Project Blueprint Challenge. Personas will go a long way towards establishing your target market.


If you're making a game, you'll next be addressing Design. During this phase, we want to see that you've thought about the underlying game design issues, and you've got a plan. You don't have to give us a whole working prototype in your document, but you should at least cover the core system elements for your game.

  • Details. We want as many as you can provide in the space you have to work with. Is your game a puzzle game? Describe how the puzzles work, and give us an example puzzle. Is it a platformer? Explain some of the challenges the user will face. Is it an RPG? Tell us about the RPG mechanics. Is it a shooter? Describe the weapons and enemies.
  • Genre knowledge. If you're making a platformer, give us examples from games we've already played. Show us that you're experienced with the genre of game you're making. Tell us how your game compares to other similar games, and how it differs. If you're going to use the Diablo loot system, tell us that. If you're going to use the Bejeweled match-3 mechanic, tell us that.
  • More details. We want to see enough material in your game design to actually go out and implement the game. Imagine you're writing an instruction manual for a team of developers on the other side of the world. Could they implement your game with the detail you've provided?


If you're not making a game, your next task is to do some research. In this section, we want to know that you've investigated the problem you want to solve, or the need you want to address. This means going out and talking to people, reading real-world research, and giving us your findings.

  • Have you solicited early feedback? Go out and talk to people who are your target audience. Explain your ideas to them. Write down what they tell you, and use it to refine your ideas. Explore a wide variety of potential users, and find out what features they want, what features they need, and what features they hate.
  • If you're building a World Citizenship project, there's almost certainly research out there that's relevant to your idea. Making a health care app? Look for medical research that supports your plan. Building a tool for farmers? Look for agricultural research pertaining to your solution. For almost every problem you're thinking about solving, there's a research paper somewhere talking about that problem. Find them, read them, incorporate them into your plan, and cite your references so we can look at them, too.
  • Who are your competitors? Find all the other apps or solutions that address the same problem or the same market as your idea. Research them, explain them to us, and then tell us why your project is better, or what your project will do differently. There are very few markets that are totally unexplored; no matter how clever you are, there's someone out there doing the same thing. When you address them, you build credibility.


In this section, we want to be convinced that your project can really work. If you pitch a million-dollar game that will outperform World of Warcraft, we're going to be skeptical. You need to show us you've thought about the problems you might encounter, and show us you have a plan to address them.

  • How clear and useful are your user stories? If you need a refresher on user stories, head over to the Project Blueprint Guide. Your user stories should describe how your project will be used, and should refer back to your Personas. Be clear and concise; you don't need to write a novel, but the stories should cover all the major use cases for your project.
  • How will your project be funded? How will it generate revenue? Not every project is intended to make money, but every project should have a plan for the future. If you're using an Azure back-end, how will you pay for that in the long-term? Will you be selling your app, or offering it for free? Will there be in-app purchases? This is another place where you should do your research; what are your competitors charging for their apps? How large is your market? How much money do they typically spend on apps like yours?
  • What technology will you be using? Be specific and detailed, here; if your app requires a device with a camera, tell us that. If it requires additional hardware, explain the hardware requirements, and ideally provide links to examples of that hardware. Will you have a client/server model? If so, will your server software be hosted on Azure?


In a lot of ways, what we're asking for here is the same thing we wanted from Big Idea: Pitch. We just want more. More detail, more references, more research, more explanations. We're already excited about your project; now we want to translate that excitement into a plan of action. Show us that you know where you're going, and we'll follow you.

Comments (37)

  1. Nde Michaël says:

    I have difficulties submitting my project, upon trying to upload my video i get this error meessage.
    “We’re unable to complete your request

    Microsoft account is experiencing technical problems. Please try again later.”
    what is the problem???

    1. We apologize for any technical difficulties. Please try again as the issue has been resolved.

  2. Rash Mendis says:

    From where can we download the template for IC’16?

    1. I have updated the rules with the correct link to download the template. They can also be accessed directly here:

  3. Husun Shujat says:

    Will this competition be renewed next year for Imagine cup 2017?

    1. 欣怡 李 says:

      Maybe,I haven’t decide alright.
      Is there anything I can do for u?

      1. Husun Shujat says:

        I’m pretty sure I can’t create the blueprint in less than a month, so I thought I’ll do it next year. I wanted confirm whether this competition would be available next year or not.

        1. Husun, you have nothing to lose by submitting something this month. The requirements are very simple and you could get some valuable feedback from our judges for the future of your project!

  4. BAeZy Kuratana says:

    Hello, Pablo 🙂 Is my understanding correct that right now we can upload the document for this Big Idea: Plan from our dashboard? Because section “Contest Registration & Submission” in our dashboard only shows Big Idea: Pitch Challenge. So i don’t know how to upload doc for this Big Idea: Plan.

    1. Baezy – sorry you are experiencing difficulties submitting. Can you please send a screenshot of your issue to so that we can assist with troubleshooting? Thank you!

  5. Ashish Singha says:

    Sir pablo, Will all of the participants be notified when the results are out of this indie pitch? And how do we know?

    1. The Big Idea Pitch results will be published soon, please keep an eye on the homepage!

  6. Ankit kumar says:

    I am facing one thing I registered my Team after that I saw that it is coming that there is no competitions for this team in team contest corner I am bit worried you can check out this problem in searching my Team Digital Tiger from india . even I don’t know where nationals would be taking place in india in 2016

    1. Ankit, if you have registered for any of the Imagine Cup Global competitions (Games, World Citizenship, or Innovation) you will see in your dashboard if your country National Finals have started. The National Finals for India have not yet opened, please check again at a later date. Good Luck!

  7. Дюков Александр says:

    Hello, I would like to know whether it is possible to send one project for different competitions, I’ve read that we cann’t send a project simultaneously at Games, Innovation and World Citizenship. But what about Big Idea and Hello Cloud online contests, can we send our project to this contests and then send it to one of the Global Competition?

    1. I have responded to your request via e-mail.


    Hi, im new here, so dont know that much about how to submit my project proposal. Can you tell me what is the last date for submitting project proposal and from where i can submit it ’cause i can’t see any option here for uploading it.

    1. Jawaria, please e-mail with any issues you may be having submitting

  9. Rusiru Dilshan says:

    Are the Big Idea Challenge and the Project Blue print Challenge same?

    1. Big Idea Challenges are the same as the 2015 Software Development Lifecycle Challenges (SDLC). So Big Idea Plan = Project Blueprint

  10. Roberto González says:

    More time for summit the Pitch plan please, one week is possible !?

  11. Opeyemi Idowu says:

    Hello…Please am having difficulties submitting the Big Idea:Plan for my team project.It just keeps saying required when we have actually selected a file.More like its not seeing it..Please help its going to close tomorrow

    1. Sorry for any issues Opeyemi – please contact us at with a screenshot so we can help resolve. Thank you!

      1. Opeyemi Idowu says:

        Thanks For the fast reply..We have sent the screenshot to the email

  12. charindu janith says:

    could any one send me the file upload link for project blueprint, because could not find it anywhere in my dashboard

  13. Grace Akpoiroro says:

    Good evening, i know this is late but my team has been trying to upload our file but an error message keeps popping out, what should we do. We have less than two hours.

  14. Raul Vivanco says:

    Hi. I have a question. In my panel, The big idea plan challenge shows me “Expires on 11/04/2015 23:59 GMT.” Its real?, because in this blog says “Don’t forget to submit your projects from your dashboard by October 28th at 23:59 GMT!”. So, i don’t understand, what is the correct date?

    1. Camilla Camatta says:

      Good question… same here…

      1. We just extended the deadline! Good luck with your submissions!

  15. To all competitors: We have extended the deadline to November 4th, 2014! If you are still having issues submitting please e-mail with a screenshot of your issue so that we can assist!

    1. Steven Munteanu says:

      “We have extended the deadline to November 4th, 2014” That is cool, do you have a time travel machine?

  16. Peter Rady Shehata says:

    Should i use the Project Blueprint Template ?

  17. Vivek Patil says:

    how many members can be there in a team?

  18. Lakmal Buddika says:

    When will the results of the Big Idea: Plan competition be released ?

    1. The judges need some time to review and score the submissions. We expect to announce the results by the end of November. Thanks for participating!

  19. mengxun li says:

    I have great passion in creating big ideas and making it a reality.
    Thanks for your stage and my team and I will try our best.

  20. Bismita Guha says:

    hello….in 2016 when will these contests be held.

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