Thursday, July 12, 2012


Today was departure day. All the students packing up, checking out, heading to the buses for the airport.

Many of the students included a "future" slide in their presentations. They spoke about their plans for their product, next steps for their business aspirations, and where they wanted to take their ideas. All were full of hope and optimism.

The question is how many teams will be around next year? We heard from a number of former contestants who had turned their project into a viable business over the past ten years. No doubt there are more. And many could benefit humanitarian work and help change the world. Yet it was clear that great ideas take incredible persistence to become great businesses.

We learned through Steve Jobs that insanely great products are all important. It was something our business schools overlooked. But the adage that great products without marketing and sales are great shelf-ware is also true, as is under-funding will kill the product. The smart teams had a marketing person on their team, and the best ones were high-energy sales people. And they had done their homework on the financials.

One of the signs about Imagine Cup posted in the conference center said "No DREAM too BIG".

One of the hallmarks of Microsoft is to think big. Passing this on to students is a natural. I heard a quip once that set "all things come to he who waits... as long as you work like hell in the meantime." As others have said, the competition is the beginning of a journey, not the end. I look forward to seeing what next year brings. See you in St. Petersburg!

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  1. Did any projects in particular strike you regarding potential humanitarian application?

  2. Many did. The students start with the Millennium Development Goals, and show how their applications can help solve the big problems. For a good example, here's the video for the Software Design winners from Ukraine: