Select Page

Humboldt County Office of Education: General Contest Information | INNOVATE Business Challenge

Light Bulb

Innovate Logo

Words: What's Your Idea

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.

50 ideas will be selected to move on to Phase 2, and the top five or so ideas are selected for the Finale, where students present their ideas to a panel of judges.

Event Overview

The INNOVATE! Business Challenge celebrates youth entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation by providing high school students the opportunity to share their ideas for creating new start-up businesses in Humboldt County. Competitors first brainstorm their innovative product, service, or business and present them by uploading electronic elevator pitch videos, which are judged by selected community members. Semi-Finalists are then chosen and given the opportunity to receive business coaching as well as answer 13 business-plan-related questions.

Five finalists are then selected and invited to attend an Evening of Inspiration, where they present their business concepts to a panel of judges. Following their presentations, the judges ask each of them questions regarding their concepts. Family members, educators, and members from the business community also attend. Winners receive monetary awards that are able to be used as seed capital for their new businesses or toward education. Recent winning business concepts have ranged from unique clothing designs to specialty agriculture to music production to drones, and much more!

Phase 1: 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. 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 your video 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. The idea workshop video explains how the Challenge works. Make sure your 60-90 second video has your Contact Sheet and Script included so we know who you are and what school you go to. To see some good examples, watch the videos from previous finalists. Good luck!

Phase 2: Answer 13 Business Concept Questions

Up to 50 Semifinalists will be selected to move on to Phase 2 and expand their idea by answering 13 Business Concept Questions. Semifinalists will need to officially register in the Challenge by February 28.

The 13 Business Concept Questions form is a fillable document. Semifinalists will be emailed a link to the document and will need to make sure they provide their name and contact information. Your answers and information are to be typed in the space provided and completed by Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m.

There will be several workshops to help semifinalists develop their concept and answer their 13 questions. Semifinalists are highly encouraged to attend at least one workshop. Local experts will be available to coach and offer their advice.


Phase 3: Finalist Presentations & Awards

Based upon the answers to the 13 Business Concept Questions, the top ten business ideas are selected to present 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 as well as one-on-one. The top five are competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and awards.

The five remaining start-up ideas will present their concepts to judges in a Design Review where smaller prize values are awarded. All Finalists will be recognized and rewarded at the Finale.

The 2020 Finale and Awards Celebration will be Thursday, May 7 at Sequoia Conference Center in Eureka.

Requirements to Participate

All contestants must be high school students at least 14 but not older than 19 years of age by February 7, 2020. A younger student may be in an age eligible team. Legal residents of Humboldt County are eligible to compete. All contestants are required to prove eligibility upon request.

Students must submit their Elevator Pitch Videos through this website to be eligible to participate in the competition. Submissions are accepted on thumb-drives or DVDs received by the Humboldt County Office of Education’s Decade of Difference Department by the deadline specified. No submission will be accepted after the deadline.

By submitting a video, the contestant is opting-in to receive Innovate! Business Challenge information and other related materials. Semifinalists will need to sign the Memo of Understanding form and submit their Registration Form. Semifinalists under the age of 18 must have written parent/guardian permission to continue in the Challenge.

Semifinalists grant the Humboldt County Office of Education the right to use and display their pictures, videos and ideas for educational and marketing purposes. Individuals or teams may submit an entry but no more than three video submissions per individual or team. Contestants cannot use an existing business, that is not their own, for their idea. Individual or team business idea must represent their original work.

In that this is an “educational” related activity, 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, terminate student participation, and refer for disciplinary review for submissions that are deemed “inappropriate”. 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, discriminate, etc.

Students selected for Phase 2, answer 13 Business Concept Questions uploaded through this website or by using an alternative process as specified above. No submission will be accepted after the deadline.

Finalists must be physically present to compete in Phase 3. Up to Ten Finalists will be selected to present their idea and compete for cash prizes. Five Finalists will compete in a Design Review and attend the Finale.

The Top Five Finalists will present at a Mock Practice, a Media Rehearsal, and compete in the Finale. Each of the Phase 3 presentations will be to a panel judges who will review, score, and award cash prizes to the Finalists.

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.

Video Overview

2020 Finale Dinner

Thursday, May 7
Sequoia Conference Center

Event Contact

Karen Brooks
707-445-7563 | kbrooks@hcoe.org

INNOVATE! Partners

Education At Work Logo