IDEAcorps Competitive Guidelines

IDEAcorps Competitive Guidelines


The IDEAcorps MBA Consulting Challenge is a nationally unique competition that hosts MBA student teams from across the region and pairs them with high-potential startups for an immersive, four-day competition. Throughout the weekend, MBA students have the opportunity to “test-drive” entrepreneurship, work on deliverables that can result in real-world impact for a local startup, and experience what it’s like to run a startup for four days.


  1. The typical IDEAcorps team consists of six student team members: one team leader (“Team Leader”) and five MBA student team members (“Team Consultants”).
  2. The Team Leader is the designated point of contact and liaison between the MBA team and the Organizing Team. Also, the Team Consultants should possess a diversity of skill sets (finance, marketing, operations, etc.).
  3. Each university’s IDEAcorps team is strongly recommended (but not required) to have at least one faculty/staff advisor.
  4. The Organizing Team will consider exceptions to the standard team structure on a case-by-case basis.

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  1. The Challenge is open to business schools offering an MBA or equivalent program.
  2. It is suggested (but not required) that the MBA students be in at least their second or later semester in order to best leverage experience and skill sets.

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  1. Twenty-one days prior to the start of the IDEAcorps weekend, Team Leaders and their advisors will receive an email announcement and virtual introduction to the entrepreneur with whom they have been “paired” and with whom they will be working throughout the weekend.
  2. Prior to the competition start, teams are encouraged to be in contact with their entrepreneur as much as they would like. As the team’s primary liaison, the team leader should arrange a schedule of communication with the entrepreneur and coordinate with the rest of the team members. Teams are also allowed to work on scoping a problem, perform market research, and complete any other tasks that they believe will help them win the competition.
  3. Throughout the weekend, all entrepreneurs are committed to being available to their teams during times that they have arranged in agreement with their teams. However, teams should expect to work independently of the entrepreneur during the times when their entrepreneur will not be onsite.

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  1. Each team space will be equipped with a table, six or more chairs, Post-It Easel Pads (25 x 30.5 inches), Sharpie pens, orientation folders, and assorted snacks. In addition, there will be snacks and drinks onsite throughout the weekend.
  2. The facility will provide Wi-Fi for all teams.
  3. There will be an onsite color printer/scanner/copier for use by the teams. There is a 50-page limit per team during the competition timeframe. For anything larger than 50 pages, there is a FedEx/Kinko's location two blocks from the competition site.
  4. Teams can bring any items into their team rooms that they would like to use for the weekend. All teams must bring their own laptops to use throughout the weekend, and they should have the ability to put their final presentations on a flash drive to submit to the Organizing Team. The teams must provide their own flash drive (4GB or larger is recommended). For more information about submitting the final presentations, see the Digital Presentation Format & Content.

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  1. Teams should arrive and check in at the competition venue on Thursday no less than 15 minutes before the start of orientation.
  2. All team members should be present at the time of onsite check-in, unless the Organizing Team is otherwise notified.
  3. All team members will receive name badges, which they should wear while they are onsite, so that the Organizing Team and Executive Coaches can identify them.

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  1. The teams should dress in business casual for orientation and the networking dinner.
  2. During the onsite working sessions throughout the weekend, teams can wear casual dress, though they should remember that they will be meeting with Executive Coaches and business community members onsite during the weekend.
  3. For the culminating event and presentations, teams should dress in business professional attire without any indication of school affiliation. Teams should also remove their name badges before the presentations.

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Orientation & networking dinner

Meet entrepreneurs



Define scope, solution & deliverables

Get help from executive coaches



Validate solution by “getting out of the building”

Get help from executive coaches



Finish validation, deliverables & presentation

Culminating presentations to judges’ panel and audience

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The program fees for the 2019 competition are $3,500. The fees cover all onsite meals (see below), the networking dinner, and snacks throughout the weekend. Expenses outside of the program fees are minimal to none except for discretionary purchases by student teams. Teams that are registered by December 1, 2018 will receive a $500 discount. To register, please pay your $500 deposit to the Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development.

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Thursday dinner

Friday breakfast

Friday lunch

Saturday breakfast

Saturday lunch

Saturday dinner

Sunday breakfast

Sunday lunch

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Note: Teams are encouraged to reach out to their alumni network chapter in New Orleans and connect with local alumni over dinner on Friday or Saturday night.



In the culminating event of the IDEAcorps competition, each of the MBA teams will present their solutions to an audience and a panel of judges. Teams will use PowerPoint slides to deliver their presentations. The panel of judges will then ask questions that will help them score the presentations. The presentation guidelines are below.


  1. The deadline for the final submission is 11am on the morning of the final event.
  2. Teams should copy all final presentation materials onto the USB drive and submit the drive in person to the organizing team.
  3. After the presentations are submitted, teams may still discuss presentation style and materials, but no changes to the presentation itself will be allowed after submission.
  4. The presentations should be able to run without glitches on the latest version of PowerPoint.
  5. The presentations should be saved as both a .PPT and as a .PDF file.
  6. The Powerpoint file should be named as “IDEAcorps” + “Year” + “Company Name” + “Presentation.” Example: “IDEAcorps 2017 Magic Bank Presentation.” The PDF file should be named as “IDEAcorps” + “Year” + “Company Name.” Example: “IDEAcorps 2017 Magic Bank.”
  7. There is no minimum or maximum number of slides required.
  8. To avoid bias, teams are not allowed to reference the university name of their or any other team participating in the competition. This includes avoiding university-specific attire as well as using pictures in the presentations with any university affiliation. Teams may include the name of the company with which they worked during the weekend, but should omit the names of their team members in order to maintain judge neutrality.
  9. Sound effects, graphics, and video clips are allowed in the presentation, but should be embedded within the file. No animations are allowed. All external files referenced in the PowerPoint must be included on the USB that is handed to the organizing team.
  10. To ensure a smooth transition, all fonts should also be embedded. Instructions are here.
  11. Teams will not have access to Wi-Fi (e.g., for accessing YouTube videos) during their presentation, so they should plan accordingly.

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In their final presentations, teams should cover the minimum following points, in addition to any other points that address the judging criteria, show the value of the work performed, and that will help them win the competition:



    Where was their entrepreneur’s company before the IDEAcorps competition started?


    What did the team do? What were the final deliverables presented to the entrepreneur?


    What was the entrepreneur’s reaction to the final deliverables? Is he/she ready, able, and willing to implement the solution?


For other talking points that should be included, see Judging Criteria.

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  1. On the final day of the presentation, a maximum of two team members will be allowed on stage to deliver the oral presentations.
  2. The remaining team members should stand to the side of the stage.
  3. The presenters should coordinate the handoff of both the microphone and the wireless remote.
  4. Any props used must be carried on and off stage by the presenter at the time of the presentation.
  5. There will be a stage/presentation area at the front of the venue, with the audience facing the stage and the teams on stage facing the audience.
  6. Team presentations will be pre-loaded onto an event laptop, which will be placed at the front of the room.
  7. A wireless presenter remote will be provided to teams, so they can advance their own slides.
  8. One handheld microphone will be provided for team presenters on stage.
  9. A timekeeper will face the stage so teams will be able to keep track of time. Teams will receive silent 5-minute and 1-minute warnings during their presentations.
  10. Wifi may not be available at the venue.
  11. Gallery seating will be provided within the audience for team advisors, alumni, and invitees (including friends and family) affiliated with the teams.

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Team Presentation         10 minutes

Judges’ Q&A                  Question + 1 minute response time from teams

Team Changeover           2 minutes

  1. All team members for each team must be onsite at the presentations 30 minutes prior to the start of the event.
  2. Teams will be allowed a maximum of 10 minutes to present, to be followed by Q&A from a panel of judges where responses will be time-limited to 1 minute (for details on the composition of the panel, see below).
  3. The judges are not allowed to interrupt the presentations; all questions will occur during the Q&A session following the presentations.
  4. The participating IDEAcorps entrepreneurs will not be part of the final presentations, but they will be present in the audience.

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  1. The judges’ panel will include judges from the New Orleans startup/entrepreneurial community, selected by the IDEAcorps Organizing Team.
  2. Each judge will be allowed to ask one question. The questions may be directed towards either presenter.
  3. One minute will be allotted per response. The time limit will begin when the judge concludes his or her question.
  4. At the end of all presentations and the final Q&A sessions, judges will convene privately to score the teams. After the judges have made their final decisions, the winning team will be announced by the judges.

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The judging criteria (scale of 1 to 5 points, with 5 points being the highest score and signifying a result that far exceeded expectations, and 1 showing a result that did not meet expectations), are as follows:


    Did the strategic direction, deliverables, and other elements of a solution tackle the full set of issues shown in the final, negotiated scope in a sensible, thorough way that markedly improved the underlying business?


    Did the team “get out of the building” and use multiple, reliable methods to gather data to validate their hypothesized solution(s) and or changes suggested for the business?


    Were the team’s solutions conveyed to the entrepreneur in a cohesive, understandable that he/she can actually execute on the day following the conclusion of the competition? Does the presentation show evidence that the participating entrepreneur feels compelled to implement the student team’s solution(s)?


    Did the team deliver a professional (oral and visual) presentation that provided a compelling, well-structured account of how the team improved the business? Were the judges’ questions answered completely yet succinctly?

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Judges will score the teams during the presentations. After all presentations and the final Q&A session have concluded, judges will tally their scores. The team with the highest number of points across all judges’ scores will win the competition. For team presentations, each judge will assign a score of 1 to 5 points under each criterion below. The judges' decision is final.

Points will be awarded according to these guidelines:


The team has not met the criterion.


The team has superficially mentioned this criterion in their presentation, but did not include this in the scope of their work during the weekend.


The team included this in the scope of their work during the weekend, and has some results to show for the criterion.


The team included this in the scope of their work during the weekend, has results to show for the criterion, and has included those results in the implementation plan for their entrepreneur moving forward.


The team included this in the scope of their work during the weekend, has results to show for the criterion, and has implemented changes that have already or will radically “move the needle” for the entrepreneur’s business.



In the event of a numerical tie after adding up the scores for each team, the judges will select the winning team according to which team has created a plan for their entrepreneur that is most immediately actionable.

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Note: Guidelines are subject to minor changes up to three weeks prior to the start of IDEAcorps orientation and weekend.