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Ideathon Logo.png
Ideathon Logo.png

Ideathon is a competition focused on promoting diversity in entrepreneurship and technology. It also serves as a forum for presenting new concepts in business and philanthropy. It's one of the many events at Derby Diversity Week, one of America's most highly anticipated minority business development-economic forums for empowerment and entertainment, featuring speakers, discussions, and meaningful networking opportunities.


The intention that drives the competition is a desire to support and amplify the voice of entrepreneurs from the five categories central to Derby Diversity Week: women, racial minorities, people in the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and people who are disabled, as well as anyone creating concepts and products designed to serve any of the same.


The focus industries include technology, sustainability, communications, hospitality, beverage and spirits, healthcare, sports, and entertainment- also key aspects of the overall event.


2022's competition began in May, wrapped up in October, and awarded a total of $50,000 in prize funding, thanks to a generous prize pool from sponsors Curaleaf and Churchill Downs. It featured twenty competitors selected from over sixty applicants. The entrepreneurs presented their ideas to experts in user interface design for websites and computer programs. Five semifinalists were chosen to work directly with those designers, who helped them to craft some of the visual software elements that could help bring their concepts to vivid life. Three finalist teams were selected to split $25,000.


The three finalists stand on the vanguard of concepts poised to change our world for the better. They finetuned their ideas and plans through the summer in preparation for that final presentation in the fall, in which one winner received an additional $25,000.


Supporting Ideathon is one way to contribute to correcting the underrepresentation of diverse individuals in the Tech industry.

Who should apply?

All submissions with innovative business concepts are accepted, ideas with a revolutionary approach to technology are favored. Candidates receive valuable guidance regarding how well they might engage challenges. Each stage of the competition has its judging criteria, as follows:

Applicant Review

  • Written submissions are received from all applicants through a web form


  • The Ideathon Committee reviews applicant's submissions


  • Rubric scoring; Points are awarded (0-10) for each of the following areas:

    • Business concept's connection to technology

    • How clearly the applicant explains the solution

    • How innovative the solution is

    • How applicable it is to the target industries, as determined by prize sponsorship and DDW focus areas

Round One Competitors - UI/UX Designer Selection

  • In-person and virtual presentations are made during Derby Diversity Week

  • Each designer selects one company based on rubric scoring, then works with that company throughout the May portion of the competition

  • The teams selected by a UI/UX designer become Semifinalists and move on to the next round

  • Rubric scoring; Points are awarded (0-10) for each of the following areas:

    • Viability of concept

    • Probability of becoming successful product/company

    • Compelling pitch presentation

    • Ability to respond to ad-hoc questions from judges

    • Ease of development of Graphical User Interface

    • Clarity of ideation from theory to practice

Semifinals – Judging Criteria

  • A second in-person and virtual presentation is made during Derby Diversity Week


  • A panel of judges scores each presentation using a rubric to select finalists 


  • Each of the winning teams is awarded a portion of the Semifinals prize pool 

  • Points are awarded (0-10) for each of the following areas:

    • How well does the team overcome challenges?

    • Technology's ease of use

    • Time to market

    • Cultural Awareness

    • User Engagement

    • Overall look and feel

Finals – Judging Criteria

  • A final in-person presentation is made during the DDW Launch event in the fall

  • A panel of judges scores each presentation using a rubric to select the Grand Prize winner

  • The winner is awarded the Grand Prize 

  • Points are awarded (0-10) for each of the following areas:​

    • Product usefulness 

    • Ease of use of technology

    • Readiness to launch (company, not whether the app is finalized)

    • Marketability

    • Pitch presentation – slides and presenter

    • Overall look and feel of the application demo

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