What are Big iDeas contests?

Big iDeas Pitch Contest: Get your idea off the ground. Pitch it for a chance at $1000 seed money and three months to build a prototype or pilot program. Show it to the campus at the Demo Day fair.

Big iDeas Business Plan Competition: Turn your prototype or pilot into a business plan. Pitch it to a panel of business experts for $5000 in start-up funds. After twelve months, show your progress at the Demo Day fair.

Here's how it Works:

Big iDeas supports the incubation of ideas and development of entrepreneurial enterprises by SMU undergraduates.

The Pitch Contest and Business Plan Competition are annual events for undergraduates to pitch creative or innovative ideas that provide value to society. Ideas can be new products as well as ones that solve a problem or improve an existing service. Big iDeas are those ideas that are viable and bring positive impact to others.

The Pitch Contest is held on the Friday of SMU Family Weekend Friday in the fall semester.

The Business Plan Competition is held on typically the first full week of February in the spring semester. That Friday is also known as Big iDeas Demo Day.

The Demo Day fair is when current and past Big iDeas winning students showcase their innovative prototypes or student businesses for the SMU and larger communities. It is a wonderful opportunity, open to all, for students to meet successful entrepreneurs, business owners, alumni, investors and others. And the Big iDeas Business Plan winners are announced at the fair.

SMU encourages undergraduate students to participate. The Pitch Contest deadline is Wednesday, 11:59 pm, before the Pitch Contest; the Business Plan deadline is Sunday, 11:59 pm, two weeks before the Business Plan competition.

SMU selects contestants based on the appropriateness of the idea on a first come first serve basis.

There can be as many winning pitches and business plans as there are Big iDeas identified by the judges.

Winning Big iDeas Pitch teams receive up to $1000 in seed money to build a prototype of their idea by the time of the Big iDeas Demo Day fair early in the spring semester.

Winning Big iDeas Business Plan teams receive up to $5000 in start-up funds to kick-start or accelerate their businesses. 

Timetable of Big iDeas Dates and Deadlines



Apply to Big iDeas during annual application cycle - by 11:59pm.


Pitch at the Big iDeas Pitch Contest for $1000 seed money and three months to make it happen.


Build prototype or pilot project over next 3 months. 
May also choose to develop big idea as a business plan.

FEB 14

Present results at Demo Day fair. Stop or continue to Big iDeas Business Plan.



Apply to Big iDeas Business Plan Competition by 11:59 pm on this date.

FEB 14

Pitch Big iDeas Business Plan for $5000 and one year to launch business.

FEB this year to JAN next year

Launch business with $5000 in start-up funds.

Early Spring Semester 2021

Present results at next year's Demo Day fair. Stop or compete for continued funding in the next Big iDeas Business Plan Competition.

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