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    The Big Idea

    Creativity & Innovation at CC is excited to announce changes to The Big Idea 2020 that will increase opportunities for students to develop ideas through mentorship and collaboration. Format changes to the competition, including the addition of the Changemaker Workshop series, will afford more students, with a wider range of interests and backgrounds, access to the program and the mentorship that it provides.

    Now in its 8th year, The Big Idea is a pitch competition in which student teams from Colorado College have the opportunity to compete for seed funding to develop their ideas. The competition follows a traditional business-pitch format. Entries for The Big Idea can take a variety of forms, and can include for-profit businesses, nonprofits, or social enterprises.  

    The format for the competition has changed slightly this year. Students teams will compete in front of a panel of judges in the semi-final round for four spots in The Big Idea final event on February 27, 2020. Rather than selecting ranked winners at this final round, the four teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of local professionals with relevant experience and expertise, and will each receive $7,500 in seed funding to develop their ideas. This new format ensures that the four finalist teams are guaranteed seed funding, and also provides an opportunity for the teams to gain professional experience pitching their ventures in front of an audience. This year we will also be inviting local Colorado investors to attend the final pitch event. Please note that eligibility requirements have been updated for 2020 and, with the exception of Colorado College paraprofessionals, Colorado College staff and faculty are not eligible to participate on teams.

    Changemaker Workshop Series

    To help prepare students for the competition, Creativity & Innovation at CC has partnered with Natasha Main, ED of Exponential Impact, to offer the Changemaker Workshop Series, a fast-paced, action-oriented series that prepares students to create impact through entrepreneurship. The four-part series is designed to teach students how to put their ideas into action by learning the tools and practicing the skills that are needed to develop both successful non-profit and for-profit business ventures. While these workshops are designed to help students develop their materials for The Big Idea, all interested students are encouraged to take the workshops, regardless of their intention to participate in the competition.The Changemaker Workshop Series comprises the following offerings:

    • Workshop 1: Core Values 
      Tuesday, September 24th
      Innovation at CC; 3:30-5:30 p.m. 
      In this session, we will delve into the foundational elements of establishing your business/venture. Let’s put your idea temporarily aside and establish who you are as a company and why you are building it. We will develop your “why statement” and core values to lay the groundwork for you to execute your vision with intention. 
    • Workshop 2: Business Model 
      Tuesday, October 22nd
      Innovation at CC; 3:30-5:30 p.m. 
      A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value. In this workshop, we will work through each element needed to create a comprehensive business model for an early-stage company. 
    • Workshop 3: Components of a Pitch and Executive Summary 
      Monday, December 2nd
      Innovation at CC; 3:30-5:30 p.m. 
      Before focusing on presentation skills, we need to make sure that you have all the elements researched and laid out. In this session, we will go over the key components of a compelling pitch deck. We will break each component down and walk you through the process of gathering and displaying the information. From here, you will have all the pieces needed to create your Executive Summary which we will develop and refine during the session.
    • Workshop 4: The Pitch 
      Thursday, December 5th 
      Innovation at CC; 3:30-5:30 p.m. 
      Communicating your idea and business is key. In this session, we will develop and refine pitch decks and go through practice rounds to ensure you are ready to present at the Big Idea or any other event.

    You can sign up for the Changemaker Workshop Series here.*

    *please note that registration for the Changemaker Workshop Series is separate from the Dynamic Half-Block and The Big Idea registration.

    The Big Idea Dynamic Half-Block

    The Big Idea Half Block class (January 6 - 16, 2020) provides the opportunity for student teams that are participating in The Big Idea competition to refine and practice their pitchesprior to the event. In The Big Idea Half Block, students will receive extensive instruction and mentorship from instructors: Dez Stone Menendez, Director of Creativity & Innovation at CC; Jake Eichengreen, Director of QUAD Innovation program; and Natasha Main, Executive Director of Exponential Impact. The Half Block class includes a deep-dive into workshopping pitches, as well as instruction in preparing all of the materials required for teams to compete in the The Big Idea semi-finals. Because The Big Idea Half Block class focuses exclusively on supporting teams as they prepare to compete in The Big Idea, registration in The Big Idea competition is required for enrollment in this class. Prior to the start of the Big Idea Half Block, students must also have completed rough drafts of the required Big Idea team materials including:

    • Core value statement
    • Executive summary
    • Business plan
    • Pitch deck of their startup concept

    While ideas may evolve and adapt in the Half Block class, as students continue to iterate, the process of creating preliminary drafts of their materials will ensure that students have considered their ideas carefully and are prepared to engage fully in the Half Block course. The goal is for students to emerge from the course fully prepared for The Big Idea semi-finals. Creativity & Innovation at CC also strongly encourages students to participate in the Changemaker Workshop series, as each workshop will cover one of the four required team documents.

    You can register for The Big Idea Dynamic Half-Block beginning October 6th on your Student Life Summit Portal.*

    The Big Idea Competition


    Please check eligibility requirements before entering.


    For all registration dates and deadlines, please view The Big Idea 2020 timeline..

    Required Materials

    Please view the list of required materials, as they are essential for participation in The Big Idea 2020. 

    UPDATE: Please note that pitches for the Big Idea Competition must 10 minutes or less in length. 

    Register for the Competition

    It's easy to register! All you have to do is email Creativity & Innovation's paraprofessional, SethWilson Gray, at

    Please include the first and last names, student ID numbers and class year for CC students, for every member of your team, and a brief description of your idea. Please note, your idea can change throughout the process, but in order to participate, teams must be registered by December 17th.


    Email Kara Carroll, Creativity & Innovation at CC's Administrative Assistant, at if you have questions or would like to discuss your idea.