How To Apply

Big iDeas Pitch Contest

October 4, 2019

Pitch your big idea and win $1000 to make it happen! The contest is open to undergraduates only. The first 25 applicants, first-come, first-serve, whose ideas bring value to society, get in (requirements). Applicant 26 and higher are placed on a waiting list in the order of submission.

Winners must be undergraduates for the duration of the Big iDeas Pitch phase, from contest to Demo Fair Day on Friday Feb 14, 2020.

Ten Easy Steps to Apply, Pitch and Win!

  1. Review the following contest documents. They will help you understand the contest expectations.
  2. Download theBig iDeas Pitch Contest Template. Read carefully and think through your response. When you are ready, print your name and the name of your idea at the top of the form. Write up your Big iDea by responding in a sentence or two to each prompt.
  3. Apply online by Wednesday, October 2, 2019, no later than 11:59 p.m. Complete the online information form. Upload your Big iDeas Pitch Template. Click the submit button. If you have trouble with the online system, email and describe your problem.
  4. Monitor your "" email on Thursday, October 3 to know if you got in and are cleared to pitch on Friday, October 4, 2019.

  5. Practice your pitch! You have 90-seconds to convince the judges that your idea is BIG. Check out this document, Words of Advice on Pitching an Idea, for good information on the art of pitching.
  6. Arrive at the Collins Center between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. to register and get in line. No-shows will be replaced by contestants from the waiting list and be able to pitch.
  7. Wait outside in the lobby until your name is called by the judges. Pitch your designated time. Your 90-second pitch will be followed by a 90-second Q and A with the judges.
  8. Remain in the Forum as an audience member after your pitch. There will be a break during the judge's deliberation. Be sure to be back in the audience by 4:30 for the announcements by the judges. All pitches deemed BIG by the judges, win!

  9. Set up an appointment to meet with the Big iDeas coordinator (to be held in the Engaged Learning Office, Clements Hall G-13). Confirm your participation. Get access to your $1000 seed money. By way of two Big iDea Boot Camp sessions.
  10. Design and build a prototype of your idea in the next four months. You will show the SMU community your idea at the Big iDeas Demo Day Fair on February 14, 2020.

Apply Now


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Big iDeas Business Plan Competition

February 14, 2020 - Big iDeas Demo Day

Pitch your Big iDeas Business Plan and win $5000 to launch your dream business.

Open to undergraduates, the first top 15 applicants with business ideas that bring value to society, for profit or not-for-profit, get in. Applicant 16 and higher are placed on a waiting list in order of submission.

Big iDeas Demo Day

  • 9 - 11 am, Business Plan Competition, Texana Room Fondren
  • 11:30 am - 1 pm, Student Start-Up Fair, Starbucks Fondren
  • Winner announced during Fair

Get Ready Now

Develop your business ideas. Write up a business plan.


Figure out the resources you will need to make it happen.


Practice your pitch.


Review these documents now to help you understand the competition expectations.

    -     WHAT TO EXPECT

Apply now! Application deadline is Sunday, February 9, no later than 11:59 pm. You will find out if you are in by 5 pm on the following Monday.

How to Apply

  1. Build your business plan using the Big iDeas BUSINESS PLAN TEMPLATE (7-PAGE). Save as a PDF file.
  2. Estimate your funding needs and complete the FUNDING REQUEST. Save as a PDF file.
  3. Click on Apply Now and complete the general and founding team information. Download and add your business plan and funding request to the application.
  4. Submit your application by February 9, no later than 11:59 pm.
  5. Get selected as a finalist and craft the perfect pitch. Get tips from PITCHING AN IDEA? WORDS OF ADVICE and attend pitch practice sessions at the CUBE.

What it Means to Win

You'll have one academic year and $5,000 to build your startup with the help & support of SMU's Big iDeas Program. You'll have 24/7 access to the SMU Incubator in suite 700 of Expressway Tower, a co-working space exclusively for Big iDeas students. At the end of the year, you can re-apply to pitch for another $5,000 if you are still undergraduate. 

Award Reimbursements requests are due before the date that you graduate from SMU. 


Apply Now


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