A WashU campus-wide
2-minute-video elevator pitch contest

Get funds for your business idea!

Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce® is a 2-minute-video elevator pitch contest open to all WashU students. Start by letting us know your interest in submitting an idea—that way we’ll answer questions, send encouragement and offer help right up to the deadline. A video link of your original idea must be submitted by 10 p.m. on March 31, 2021. All ideas will receive personalized feedback from a panel of experienced judges and mentors. We have $15,000 in prize money—and you could win up to $2,500 to help get your big idea off the ground. Register today!

$15,000 prize pool sponsored by:


WashU Olin’s Entrepreneurship Program
Skandalaris Center
Holekamp Seed Fund

Highlights from Spring 2021

The Skinny:

  • Open to any enrolled WashU student (of any kind)
  • Just register to let us know of your initial interest.
    We’ll send you encouragement, answer questions and offer help right up to the deadline to submit your video.
  • Come up with an original business idea (either “for profit”, “nonprofit”, and/or with “social/environmental/sustainable impact).
  • Follow the “winning structure” (below) when organizing your pitch.
  • Record and submit your video link by 10 p.m. on March 31, 2021.
    Upload to YouTube and select “non-publicly-listed” and share the link.
  • All ideas will receive personalized feedback from a panel of experienced judges and mentors.
  • Finally, (hopefully) win some money to help validate and fund your BIG idea!

Winning Structure:

If you want to win . . . structure your pitch in the same order of the criteria by which the judges are evaluating:

  1. Problem: the significance of the problem/issue being addressed? 0-10
  2. Solution: how adequately does the product/solution address the problem? 0-10
  3. Market: the target customer market is significant, well defined, and growing? 0-10
  4. Competition: the solution is clearly differentiated from its competitors? 0-10
  5. Value Creation: clearly articulated potential for sustainability — revenue, profits and/or measurable social/environmental impact? 0-10
  6. Investment Needed: how prize money will be used to further develop the next steps of the concept? 0-10
  7. Team: the team has the skills, experience, and credentials to actually execute the concept? 0-10
  8. Presentation: overall verbal pitch presentation, organization and passion? 0-10

Note: the 2-minute video should be one continuous shot with no editing. We’re expecting talking heads. This is NOT a video production contest. The expectation is that you’ll simply use a smartphone to record the video in one take.


There are two grand prizes of $2,500 –
one for the best undergraduate student pitch and one for the best graduate student pitch.

There are two second place prizes of $1,250 –
one for the second best undergraduate student pitch and one for the second best graduate student pitch.

There are 30 $250 “runner up” awards among all other entrants.

The final awards will be announced virtually the evening of 4/27/21.

Individual feedback will be sent out to all who entered following the event.

Attend a Workshop

The Skandalaris Center will be running workshops to help you better prepare for your BIG IdeaBounce pitch. See their website for details. You can also book an appointment to discuss your idea with Mike Seper, (mseper@wustl.edu) — The Skandalaris Center’s Associate Director..

Attend a live IdeaBounce™

The Skandalaris Center is running live IdeaBounces(R) this fall.  See their website for details.

Consider attending one to give your pitch live. The feedback you receive will help you shape your final video pitch.

Personalized Judges Feedback

A wonderful benefit to entering the contest is that whether you win prize money or not, you will receive detailed feedback on your pitch including how you were rated on each of the 8 judging criteria. You’ll also receive judges’ comments to help you improve your pitch and idea.

The pool of judges is made up of real entrepreneurs, VCs, startup mentors and professionals out in the world who are part of WashU’s alumni network.

Examples of 2-Minute Video Pitches:

Here are some WashU examples of 2-minute pitches.


There are no confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements as part of this competition. Submitting to the contest has the potential of releasing your idea to the world. However, given this does not reveal a fully detailed business plan, your risks are minimal. But if you have a “trade secret” or patentable idea, you might simply allude to that in your pitch without actually revealing the details. It is up to you how much to reveal.

Continue Your Entrepreneurial Education at WashU

Consider these classes where you can “workshop” your original idea as part of the course assignments: MGT 421/521 Introduction to Entrepreneurship or SWSA 460L/5060 Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship are prerequisites for MGT 424/524 The Hatchery (Business Planning for New Enterprises). Once you have a solid foundation, consider these courses where you can workshop taking your original idea to market: MKT 400 Business and Innovation Marketing and MKT 559 A&B Creating and Marketing Innovative Products and Services.


Send an email to Doug Villhard, Olin’s academic director for entrepreneurship, at dvillhard@wustl.edu.