The Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs 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!
Eligibility & Cost
If you want to participate, you must be a high school student in 9-12 grade/form.
Free to Compete
The Diamond Challenge is a completely free competition to high school 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.
If there is not a pitch site near you, or the competition track you selected is not available in your state/country, you will pitch virtually by recording a video of your team and submitting it using our online registration portal by the submission round deadline.
If there is a pitch site near you, and the competition track you selected is available in your state/country, based on submission round scores, eligible teams will be invited to 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 comprised of no more than 15 slides.
Virtual competitors will submit a recorded video pitch. Eligible and invited live competitors will present an in person pitch.
Diamond Challenge Submissions Open
Register your team and find an advisor! January 5, 2018 @ 11:59pm EST
Diamond Challenge Submissions Close
Virtual Competitors: Submit your written concept, pitch deck, and video pitch!
Live Competitors: Submit your written concept and pitch deck!
January 12 – 29
Diamond Challenge Judging Window
Online Diamond Challenge judges will review participant submissions and determine who moves on in the competition.
Virtual Competitors: You will be notified if you are a semifinalist after the judging window.
Live Competitors: You will be notified if you are invited to a live preliminary round pitch event after the judging window.
February 8 – March 24
Invited teams pitch live at pitch events around the world. Semifinalists will be selected at each pitch event.
April 11 – 13
Diamond Challenge Youth Entrepreneurship Summit
Semifinalist and finalist teams pitch live at the University of Delaware. Students, educators, and supporters from all around the world come together to engage with entrepreneurship education through mentoring sessions, workshops, pop-up challenges, speakers, panels, and more during our 3-day global conference.
Rules and Judging Criteria
Students 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.
- All information submitted through the Diamond Challenge registration portal must be submitted in English.
- Each team member and advisor email address submitted through the Diamond Challenge registration portal must be a different email address. The submission will not render correctly unless all individuals have a unique and different email address.
- 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@example.com 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 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.
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
Deadline for submission of Application January 5, 2018
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Good luck as you apply.