The Zingale Big Idea Competition

What’s the Big Idea?

The Zingale Big Idea Competition is a funding request contest open to all Allegheny and visiting college students. Student teams present concepts in any one of three areas: For-profit Business, Non-profit Business and Hybrid Social Venture. Our next competition will be held on May 8, 2021 as a virtual event.

The Annual Competition will award a whopping total of $20,000 in Total Prize money between the student and community winners. The contest emulates the experiences seen on the popular CNBC broadcast, Shark Tank (but with a heart). Unlike Shark Tank, the Zingale Big Idea distinguished panel of judges do more than evaluate the student team’s business models – they offer constructive feedback, coach and encourage students.

Big Idea Workshops
Workshops are scheduled to help participants prepare
for the competition. These are open to 
Allegheny students.
For 2021, Zoom workshops will be held on:
Friday, March 5, 2021 – Coming Up With A Big Idea
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – Developing Your Big Idea
Wednesday, March 31, 2021 – Communicating Your Big Idea

Details for the 2021 event

–Participants will submit a written, 3- page Executive Summary including financials no later than April 26, 2021.
–Allegheny College entrepreneurship professors Chris Allison and John Golden will select the top seven summaries.  These students will advance to the Final Round.
–During the Final Round on Zoom on May 8, students will have 15-20 minutes to present their Big Idea followed by 10 minutes of Q & A from the judges.
–Presentations will be spaced out in 30-minute increments ending between 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.
–Judging will take place immediately following the last presentation.
–The winners will be announced via Zoom at 2:00 p.m., email notification and publicized by the college.

Questions or want to register for the event and/or the workshops?
Email Sarah Holt at,  Event Co-Coordinator in Quigley Hall  or Prof. Chris Allison at They’ll provide additional information.

Why Bother?

Participation in the competition will look great on your resume.  You can win money to make your Big Idea a reality.

What’s Next?

Working with your team, you’ll develop a presentation using the 10-20-30 Rule; that is, you’ll prepare 10 Powerpoint slides for a pitch that is 20 minutes long, using text no smaller than 30-point type on each slide. Here are the templates that you will need to complete prior to your presentation:

Zingale Big Idea Competition ’20 – 1 Year Financial Plan Template
Zingale Big Idea Competition ’20 – 3 Year Financial Plan Template 
Zingale Big Idea Competition ’20 – Annual Revenue Worksheet
Zingale Big Idea Competition ’20 – Monthly Expense Worksheet
Zingale Big Idea Competition ’20 – Startup Cost Estimator
Zingale Big Idea Competition ’20 – Presentation Template

Meet the 2019 Winners

2019 Zingale Big Idea Finalists, from left Christian Walker, Daniella Clarke, Christopher Miller, Ethan Harvey, Natalia Buczek, Mark Sotomayor and Doug Salah. Photo by Ed Mailliard. Click here to read our 2019 Newsletter

Tied for 1st Place: Natalia Buczek & Christopher Miller –  Aid Memoir, a communication app and website for patients with verbal and memory impairments and their caregivers.

Christian Walker – animatr, a streetwear company that changes the negative narrative surrounding fans of Japanese art/animation.

2nd Place: Daniella Clarke – Fit Me, a food truck  and home delivery service dedicated to providing healthier meal options.

3rd Place: Mark Sotomayor & Ethan Harvey – Acceptum, an app that automatically collects & stores your receipts in a digital database in order to alleviate the need for  paper receipts.

Honorable Mentions:
Abraham Duncan – Never Go Hungry, created to bring awareness the glaring issue of hungry kids living on college campus as well as promoting individual achievements and helping the community as a whole.
Doug Salah – MSH, A brand/lifestyle that celebrates each person’s individuality.

Christian "Dubs" Walker
Christian (Dubs) Walker

What do students think about this experience? 

“Freshman year I lost in the finals.  Sophomore year I didn’t make it past the preliminary round. Last summer I worked so hard I burnt myself out. I have never taken a day for granted. I have worked for the last three years for this moment. Winning this competition is the result of consistent hard work and dedication,” commented Christian (Dubs) Walker, co-first place winner of the 2019 Zingale Big Idea Competition.

Successful presentations in past competitions have been about a mobile organic food market, a new music sharing app, an aquaponics research project, and an employment initiative for adults in the autism spectrum.

Meet the 2018 Big Idea Judges | Read about the 2018 Winners | View photos from 2018 competition

The Zingale Big Idea Competition has been made possible through the generous support of Lance & Karen Zingale and the Burton Morgan Foundation.