The Raymond Ideas Challenge, hosted by the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, is designed to encourage students to explore entrepreneurship and foster development of an entrepreneurial mindset. The Challenge is one of the McFerrin Center’s longest standing programs open each fall to current Texas A&M University students.
The submission of a winning idea will require students to prepare a compelling application that demonstrates creative, careful, and methodical planning but it will not require a fully developed business plan. Ultimately, the Raymond Ideas Challenge will help students develop an ability to think in an entrepreneurial way and develop the competencies needed to identify and successfully implement new business ideas throughout their lifetime.
All students attending Texas A&M University at the College Station campus may participate in the Raymond Ideas Challenge. Students may submit ideas individually or as a team. After the application deadline, all entries will be reviewed in a Pre-Screen Round and scored by a hand-selected group of judges. Finalists will be selected from this Round and invited to pitch their ideas at the Final Pitch Event. Winners will be announced and awarded prizes during an Awards Reception that same evening. Each finalist will also receive a certificate as confirmation of their participation.
There is no restriction on the number of times an individual or team can apply, however, a single person will be allowed to participate in no more than two ideas as a Finalist. Teams may not consist of more than five students, and each idea will require its own application.
Fall 2022 Dates
Applications Open Online: Monday, Sept. 19, 2022
Applications Close: Friday, Oct. 7, 2022
Finalists Announced: Late October
Finalist Workshop: Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022
Final Pitch Event & Awards Reception: Friday, Nov. 11, 2022
All current students attending Texas A&M University at the College Station campus may participate and may submit ideas individually or as a team.
To enter the Raymond Ideas Challenge, competitors must complete and submit an entry form through the designated online system. By submitting an idea, all competitors certify that all ideas submitted are their own original work and that they have read and accepted all terms, conditions, and rules of the competition.
After the application deadline, all entries will be reviewed in a Pre-Screen Round and scored by a hand-selected group of judges. Finalists will be selected from this Round and invited to pitch their ideas at the Final Pitch Event. Winners will be announced and awarded prizes during an Awards Reception that same evening.
Eligible applicants should meet the following criteria:
- The entry must consist of a properly completed entry form.
- On the date of submission, each author must be a registered student of Texas A&M University at the College Station campus.
- Applicants may choose to enter as an individual or as a team. Teams are allowed up to 5 members, should be student led and composed of members willing to work together on all aspects of the competition.
- Each individual/team may submit as many ideas as they wish; however, each idea will require a separate application, and a single person will be allowed to participate in no more than two ideas as a Finalist.
- Completion of product development or company formation are not a requirement to enter the challenge, but competitors are welcome and encouraged to take their idea to the next level.
NOTE: Rules and exceptions are at the discretion of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. Submission content must be appropriate for the student, judge, sponsor, and volunteer audience. Inappropriate content will result in disqualification. Direct any questions about eligibility to the McFerrin Center at McFerrinCenter@tamu.edu.
After the Pre-Screen round of online review and scoring, the Finalists will be announced as the Raymond Ideas Challenge Finalists. These teams will be provided additional information in order to prepare the following:
Each Finalist (whether individual or team) will have 5 minutes to present the idea to a group of judges followed by 5 minutes of questions from the judges. Teams will be cut off after 5 minutes of presentation time and at the end of 5 minutes for Q&A, regardless of the content covered.
Attendance is required to participate at the Final Pitch Event. We only require that one author present the idea, so all authors are not required to attend, although it is recommended.
In developing the idea, we encourage authors to anticipate judges’ questions. The presentation before the small groups of judges will be a low-pressure event. Be assured, the judges are there to help and provide feedback, not intimidate. No PowerPoint presentations will be used during the final presentation.
Based on the scoring provided by the judges at the Final Pitch Event, cash prizes will be awarded to individuals or teams with the top ideas. The six top-scoring teams will receive cash prizes, in addition to 4 Honorable Mention prizes.
These cash prizes will be awarded to the individual participants listed for each winning team and will be divided between all entered competitors on the winning entries. They are non-equity, non-ownership cash awards and winners are encouraged to utilize these funds in a manner consistent with their entrepreneurial goals.
*Cash prize amounts vary from year to year based upon sponsors and will be announced during the application period.
Judges are hand-selected by the McFerrin Center from our network of mentors, successful entrepreneurs and Texas A&M University Faculty.
The judges are looking for competitors who have an outstanding idea and clearly indicate that their idea creates values. Judges are also looking for competitors with an idea that is able to defend itself against other ideas in the competition. Finally, each idea should demonstrate to the judges that it is viable in the marketplace with clear evidence that the idea is attractive to a customer. As a whole, an application should serve as a convincing argument as to why the idea is valuable, unique, viable, and needed.
Via an online reviewing process, judges from the academic and business community will evaluate written entries in each of the following areas to identify the Finalist ideas: Idea Uniqueness, Problem & Solution, Target Customer, Competitive Advantage, Resources and Goals & Why.
Presenters and Ideas will be judged in each of the following areas: Idea Uniqueness, Problem & Solution, Target Customer, Competitive Advantage, Resources, Goals & Why, Presentation Delivery, Presentation Content and Q&A.
2021 Raymond Ideas Challenge Winners:
First Place Award of $2,500
Magnetic Gears – Bryton Praslicka
Second Place Award of $2,000
Seatgull – Jack Roehr & Will Roehr
Third Place Award of $1,500
Olera, Inc – Carter Radocha
Fourth Place Award of $1,000
ATM Security Gate – Carson Neal & Melvin Scherer
Fifth Place Award of $750
SageDerma: The Device for Early Detection of Pressure Injuries – Madi Heck & Amogh Rao
Sixth Place Award of $500
Biosensor technology for the management of metabolic diseases in dairy cattle – Wyatt Hursh & Keara O’Reilly
Honorable Mentions – $250 Awarded to each winner
UV-C Autonomous Disinfecting Robot by Imperium – Donald Bowen
NeuroCreis: Developing Personalized Neurological Therapeutics using Adult Neural Screens – Arthur Sefiani
B2G Victory – Julie Hartman
2020 Raymond Ideas Challenge Winners:
First Place Award of $2,000
Alzheimer’s Gamma Frequency Therapeutic Device – Julia Felder ’24, Carmen Gaas ’24
Second Place Award of $1,500 sponsored by Frogslayer
Ai-RIS the Portable Retinal Imaging System – Marcus DeAyala, Tokunbo Falohun, Daniel Kermany, Harsha Mohan, Amir Tofighi Zavareh, Uthej Vattipalli
Third Place Award of $1,000 sponsored by Frogslayer
Wax-stic: The Wax That Replaces Plastic – Grant Hankins ’21, Jack Stewart ’21, Ty Thibodeaux ’21
Fourth Place Award of $850
Card Stock Exchange – Joseph Escobar ’22
Fifth Place Award of $650
Chronos 360 – Hassan Anifowose ’23
Sixth Place Award of $450
On.ai – Sanjay Kumaran ’23
Honorable Mentions – $250 Awarded to each winner
Construction Shield – Pepito Thelly ’22
InterChange – Laura Tolan ’21
Career Readiness Marketplace for the 21st Century Workforce – Naomi Woods ’24
Virus Breathalyzer: Detecting Bugs with a Single Breath – Nathaniel Fernandes ’24
Therapy Doll – Anna Huang ’24, Nyima Sanneh ’24
4 Paws – Reagan Kinley ’21
Vacation Sitters – Taylor Castillo ’21