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logo image for Idea Quest sponsored by Veterans United

Jump-start your venture idea by participating in the new Idea Quest program. Submit your application by Oct. 5, 2020.

IQ Calendar

  • September 8
    IQ application available on StartupTree
  • September 22
    Virtual Q&A session and virtual mentor office hours
  • October 5
    Applications due by
    11:59 p.m. CST
  • October 6-16
    Judges review applications
  • October 19
    Top-10 individuals/teams notified
  • October 20-29
    Virtual mentor office hours
  • November 9
    Video pitches due by
    11:59 p.m. CST
  • November 17
    IQ finals held via Zoom,
    3 p.m.

Idea Quest (IQ) offers students an opportunity to virtually pitch their idea to a broad spectrum of application reviewers. The top 10 teams will be invited to record a 90-second video of their elevator pitch for a panel of entrepreneurs, who will ask questions via a live Zoom session. The panel has $10,000 in seed funding to disburse among finalists with the most promising ideas. IQ is managed by staff in the MU Office of Research and Economic Development and sponsored by Veterans United.

An elevator pitch is a quick, clear and concise description of your venture idea that could be delivered to a potential investor in the amount of time it would take to ride an elevator. How you present yourself and your idea is critically important to your success. The “pitch” establishes your personal brand and your value proposition for customers. It should be well-developed, demonstrate your skills and passion, and differentiate you from other emerging entrepreneurs.



Idea Quest is open to any full-time undergraduate or graduate student at Mizzou, UMKC, Missouri S&T and UMSL

  • Ideas may be at any stage of development, from fresh concepts and innovations to those that already have customer traction.
  • Ideas may be services or products.
  • Ideas must be for-profit ventures.
  • Individuals or student teams may apply.
  • Applicants must attend all required IQ virtual events.
  • Individuals or student teams may be removed from the program at the discretion of the IQ organizers.
  • Students who participated in Entrepreneur Quest are eligible, and encouraged, to apply for Idea Quest.
  • Presentations must be in English.
  • If you attend school on a student visa, please be aware that prize money may be awarded as a scholarship. It is up to you to determine whether or not this may impact your status.


Your Contacts

Photo of Greg Bier Gregory L. Bier, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Programs
Photo of Kelly Mattas Kelly Mattas
Senior Program/Project Support Coordinator

University of Missouri
1211 MU Student Center
Columbia, MO 65211-2600

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General Guidelines

Note: It is important that applicants make an informed decision about whether or not to disclose their innovative ideas as part of a program like Idea Quest. If team members believe they possess a truly unique idea or potential intellectual property, they should seek outside legal advice about whether to participate. 

  • Participating in Idea Quest is free.  
  • Students selected as top-10 finalists are required to participate in all virtual Idea Quest programs. 
  • If a student team is chosen as a finalist, it is advisable that only one team member be the presenter in the elevator pitch video.
  • The Idea Quest finals will be held on Zoom and streamed via YouTube. This session will be recorded.
  • Finalists will be asked to complete a photo/video release form, which gives the university permission to use IQ photos and videos to help build program awareness for future participants.
  • Teams that apply to Idea Quest must designate one member as the principal contact.
  • Seed funding won during Idea Quest can be awarded to a student’s university account or to their venture (LLC). Before opting to have IQ funds added to their university account, students should consult with the financial aid office to make sure the deposit won’t negatively impact other financial awards. Decisions cannot be changed once funds are deposited.
  • If a team wins IQ money and members want it added to their student accounts, it is up to the team leader to determine how the money is divided among members.
  • Decisions made by the initial application reviewers and panel of entrepreneurs are final.
  • No late applications will be reviewed for Idea Quest. Period. End of story.


Guidelines for Video Pitches

An elevator pitch is relatively quick. In the Idea Quest program, IF YOU ARE SELECTED AS A FINALIST, you have 90 seconds to sell yourself and your venture idea. You must also convince the listener that YOU are the right person for YOUR idea. That is a tall order for such a tight time limit. Awesome elevator pitches are clear, focused, concise and get attention.

Your 90-second pitch will be recorded. Find a great videographer! Allow your videographer to edit segments to create the best possible story. During the finals on Zoom, we will show your 90-second video and then open the session to Q&A. You will not be expected to re-pitch your venture due to time constraints. The Q&A session will last no longer than two minutes. Because this is a virtual elevator pitch, you will not have the opportunity to distribute business cards, literature on your venture, or demonstrate a prototype (unless the demonstration is in your 90-second video).

Screen sharing during the finals will not be allowed. Hence, you will not be allowed to add any content to your presentation during the finals. The finals are simply a showing of your recorded 90-second pitch and two minutes of Q&A.

While you do not have much time, focus on speaking clearly and slowly. Do not appear rushed; it sets a poor tone for the pitch.

Make sure that you, or your videographer, set the shoot up so that it minimizes background noise and distractions. Use a shoot location that compliments what you are trying to communicate. The 90-second video should not simply be a selfie. Put some thought into it. Have a professional appearance that communicates your personal brand.

Recommendations for what to include in your 90-second video:

  • Introduce yourself and your venture.
  • Opening – what is your value proposition?
  • Explain the problem in the market as it currently exists.
  • How large is the market?
  • Explain why you are the right person. What are your qualifications to make this happen?
  • Who is the competition? What are the substitutions for your venture?
  • What will your product/service cost?
  • Who, EXACTLY, is your target market?
  • What is your competitive advantage?
  • Do you have any customer surveys, customer discovery or customer traction yet?
  • Include a dynamic closing with a call to action.
  • Useful tips for an elevator pitch are all over YouTube. Find samples that fit YOU!
  • Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.

We will provide directions at a later date for where to upload your video. It must be uploaded no later than Nov. 9, 2020, 11:59 p.m. CST.


Other Opportunities

Over the past several years, students involved in our programs have won additional seed funding through a variety of competitions and programs that you may be eligible for. Our goal is to help you succeed! We strongly encourage participants to stay involved in Mizzou Entrepreneurship and connect on social media so that we can continue to communicate additional opportunities and hear about your successes. We will enthusiastically pass on eligibility and application information for additional programs. Examples: