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A competition during Penn State’s Startup Week (April 17-21 2017), that encourages students to identify entrepreneurial ideas driven by digital innovation.


Teams from multiple colleges identify a big problem and a potential solution, then pitch their idea to a panel of industry judges. This is an idea pitch and not a business plan competition, so this is for teams in the early stages of figuring out how to solve a big problem.


The only requirement is that the solution must leverage information technology as a key component of the business model.


Mike Black – CEO and Founder of Told Media and ParkingBee

Mike Black is the CEO and founder of Told Media, a strategy, design, and development company.

He is also the CEO of ParkingBee, which is a parking app he started at Penn State while he was still a student studying Finance.

Mike is really passionate about entrepreneurship and enjoys mentoring student startups that are working on technology projects.



Undergraduate Students

Any undergraduate student currently enrolled and in good standing at Penn State is eligible to participate.

Teams of 2 to 5

Teams must have a minimum of 2 students and a maximum of 5. Teams can be new teams or existing teams who are already working on a problem. See the TeamFinder page to request or search for teammates.

From at least 2 different colleges

To encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, teams must have members that represent at least 2 different colleges at Penn State. Are you a double major? Pick one college to represent.


Rocket Pitches

Each team will have 3 slides and 3 minutes to pitch their ideas. There will be no Q&A, just your team's rocket pitch. The top 6 teams will advance to the final round.

Mentor Pairing

Finalists will be paired with successful entrepreneur and industry mentors who will help teams advance their ideas and prepare for final pitches.

Final Pitches

Finalists will have 5 minutes to pitch their ideas and 5 minutes to answer questions from the judges during Penn State's Startup Week event in April.


startup-512Win a trip to build your network and advance your idea.


1st and 2nd place teams win a trip within the U.S. that will help advance their idea and extend their entrepreneurial network.

3rd place team wins a fun technology gadget.


Top teams are also fast tracked through the application process for the summer program in the Happy Valley Launchbox accelerator.


teamDo you want to participate, but you don’t have a team?

Do you need team members from other colleges?

Don’t worry.

Check out our forum to find other interested students from across Penn State.

Find A Team



Applications open on Mon February 6 and are due by Fri February 17, 2017 @ midnight.

Apply Now

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2017 Contest Details Released

April 28, 2016April 28, 2016
The details for the 2017 Ideamaker Challenge have been released. Find out more here.

2016 Competition Concludes

April 28, 2016
The 2016 Ideamaker Challenge has come to an end, and here are the results!

Test News

April 28, 2016
This is a test of the new news.