Contest Info

INNOVATE! Business Challenge is a high school competition to create an idea for a business startup. Winners receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes to help get their business off the ground! To enter, just record a 60-90 second video "elevator pitch" telling us about your idea and upload it here.

40 ideas will be selected to move on to a second round, and the top five or so ideas are selected for a finale, where students present their ideas to a panel of judges.


Phase I: Upload Your Video "Elevator Pitch"

Create a business start-up idea, then record and submit that idea as a 60-90 second elevator pitch video recording. Ideas can be an item that does not exist, a new or improved product or service. The first 100 video submissions will receive a prize. It will be sent via school courier service for distribution to each student who submitted a video of their idea. One prize person and per team.

This website is your portal to submit it online. You may also mail a thumbdrive or DVD to HCOE INNOVATE! Business Challenge 901 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka, CA 95501. Videos must be at least 60 seconds long and no longer than 90 seconds, and must be less than 95MB in size. For help with video file size, click here.

The Contest Resoursces page has all kinds of tips to help you dream up with your idea, record and submit it. Look under Resources also. The classroom presentation video explains how the Challenge works. Make sure your 60-90 second video has your Video Slate included so we know who you are and what school you go to. To see some good examples, watch the videos from last year's Finalists. Good luck!

Deadline: Wednesday, February 15th, 5 p.m.


Phase II: Business Concept Questions

40 Semi-finalists will be selected to expand their idea by answering 13 Business Concept Questions. Semi-finalists will need to officially enter the competition by March 17. The 13 Business Concept Questions’ form is a fillable PDF. The form is downloaded from this website as a working document and needs to be uploaded, by the deadline, when completed. Each of the 13 answers are limited to 200 words.

There will be a series of workshops to help Semi-finalists develop their concept to answer the questions. Each Semi-finalist must attend at least one workshop. Local experts will be available to consult with students.

Deadline: Friday, April 7th at 5 p.m

Phase III: Top 10 Presentations

The top business start-up ideas are selected to present their ideas to a panel of judges. The top five ideas will pitch their ideas live at the Finale! To help prepare the students for these presentations, business mentors will provide feedback during a formal practice and one-on-one. The top five are competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and awards. Five additional start-up ideas will present their concepts to judges during a Design Review where smaller prize values are awarded. They will be recognized at the Finale.

Five Design Reviews: Monday, May 15th, Humboldt County Office of Education (Time TBA)

Top Five Finale: Thursday, May 25th, Sequoia Conference Center (Time TBA)


Requirements to Participate:

Contestant must be enrolled in a Humboldt County high school and be at least 14 but not older than 19 years of age as of the Phase 1 submission deadline. Participation in the INNOVATE! Business Challenge is voluntary.

Phase 1 - Student must submit their Elevator Pitch Video online through the Decade of Difference website to be eligible to participate in the competition. Thumb-drives or DVDs will be accepted, but they must be received by the Humboldt County Office of Education’s Decade of Difference Department located at (901 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka) by 5 P.M. on the deadline date. No submissions will be accepted after the deadline. Videos must be at least 60 seconds long and no longer than 90 seconds and must feature the student’s name, school, grade, and name of their idea.

Individuals or teams may submit an entry with a maximum of three video submissions per individual or team. Contestant cannot use an existing business that is not their own for their idea. Individual/team’s business idea must represent their original work. As long as the idea was not the Grand Prize winner, ideas may be submitted multiple years. Finalists may re-submit their idea as long as their idea demonstrates progression of development.

By submitting a video, contestant is opting-in to receive Decade of Difference Innovate! Business Challenge information and other related materials. Phase 2 and Phase 3 finalists grant the Decade of Difference the right to use pictures, videos and ideas for promotional purposes for the INNOVATE! Business Challenge.

This is an “educational” related activity and all submissions (video uploads, answers to Business Questions, and Finalist Presentations) must be suitable for audiences of multiple ages and be presented appropriately. The judges (in collaboration with Humboldt County Office of Education personnel) have sole discretion throughout the Innovate! Business Challenge process to void entries and terminate student participation for inappropriate content and presentations. Examples of “inappropriate submissions” include but are not limited to those that: promote illegal activities, contain sexual references, use inappropriate language, are cruel in content, etc.

If selected for Phase 2, contestant and parents/guardians (if needed) will be required to sign the Business Challenge Registration Forms. Semi-finalists will be required to attend and participate in at least one 13 Business Concept Question workshop. Answers to business concept questions, required for Phase 2 participation, shall be uploaded through the Decade of Difference website or by using an alternative process as specified by 5 P.M. on the Phase 2 deadline day. No submissions will be accepted after the deadline.

Contestant must be physically present to compete in Phase 3, the Finale Presentation or Design Review, practices and rehearsal. Each Phase 3 Presentation must adhere to guidelines which will be provided upon notification.

If you have questions call (707) 445-7563 or e-mail

Begin now by uploading your elevator pitch video!