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Big Idea Canvas
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Start Your Big Idea Canvas Now!
Printable PDF Version
Download the Big Idea Canvas
Access the Interactive Canvas
Digital Interactive Version
Big Idea Challenge

Enter the Big Idea Challenge!


Prizes Include: Mentoring, IP & Patent Consulting, and Cash

Feb. 23 - Mar. 25, 2016
Judging Criteria

Canvas submissions will be judged based on the following criteria:


1. A clear understanding of the context, frequency, and level of problem a customer is experiencing


2. The size and dynamics of the targeted market


3. A reasonably and succinctly articulated solution to the problem that is compelling and innovative


4. Team domain expertise to execute the solution


5. A well-reasoned, feasible market-entry strategy

1. Complete the Digital Interactive Version of the Big Idea Canvas and receive your initial score.

2. Click on "Interact and Share Your Big Idea Canvas." This will integrate your canvas with Mural, an online collaboration platform.

3. From Mural, you can add notes or share your canvas with your team members. 

4. When you are ready to submit your canvas to the Challenge from Mural, click on the "Share" button, create a unique link for your canvas, and email the link to

5. You will receive a confirmation email for your successful submission.


The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 25, 2016 at 11:59PM US Eastern Daylight Time.

Submission Instructions

Mentoring: The top three winners will receive a one-hour consulting session with Paul Ahlstrom, VC and Author of Nail It Then Scale It. (After the mentoring session, interested winners will also be given personal introductions to participate in top international startup accelerators.)


IP Research: The top three winners will receive free IP patentability analysis and an IP relevance ranking of their idea by world-expert, Brian Cummings.


Patent Assistance: The top winner will receive free assistance in filing a provisional patent on their idea from a top national law firm.


Cash: The top winner will also receive $2,500 in cash (enough to buy a cool, new laptop to start coding).

Paul Ahlstrom

Paul Ahlstrom is the author of Nail It Then Scale It, creator of the Big Idea Canvas, and Managing Director and co-founder of Alta Ventures. Through Alta Ventures and prior funds, Paul has invested in Jott, VidAngel,, Altiris, Converus, LanDesk, Rhomobile, SpaceMonkey, and over 125 startups throughout the US and LATAM. Through Alta Ventures and the Alta Innovation Institute, Paul is focused on accelerating positive venture outcome for entrepreneurs in the Americas.

Brian Cummings is a General Partner in Alta Venutes and oversees the Alta Innovation Institute, a think tank for unique entrepreneurial programs and big ideas. Brian has founded or helped start hundreds of technology-based companies, and is changing the way research and patents are translated into products through a new venture called Technium. 

Brian Cummings
Challenge Details

The Big Idea Challenge provides a unique opportunity for innovators from all over the world to submit big ideas, receive constructive feedback, and collect great prizes.


To participate in the Challenge, simply complete and submit your Big Idea Canvas. Your submission will then be judged by Paul Ahlstrom, Brian Cummings, and a group of highly experienced entrepreneurs and investors. Any entrepreneur is eligible to participate. However, only ideas that are not already existing business entities will be considered for the Challenge.


The winner will be announced on March 31, 2016 by Paul Ahlstrom at the Pacific Alliance Venture Capital Conference in Lima, Peru.

Big Idea Canvas Twitter Page
Steve Grizzell

Steve Grizzell is a 25-year veteran in innovation, finance, entrepreneurship, and economic develop-ment. He is currently Managing Director of InnoVentures Capital Management, wich manages a Small Business Investment Company and a non-bank lender that provides venture debt to early-stage companies. To date, Steve has been directly responsible for investment in more than 150 companies, the majority involving early-stage technology-based companies.

Jonathan Van

Jonathan Van is a serial entrepreneur and COO of Technium, a startup committed to transforming the way research and patents are translated to products. Jonathan has led several pre-seed and seed invest-ments and consulted with many investors and founders to formulate venture-backed businesses. Previously, he has done tours of duty operating unique entrepreneurial programs at Alta Ventures, General Assembly NYC, Lean Startup Machine, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Big Idea Canvas Twitter Page
Start Your Big Idea Canvas Now!

Do You Have a Big Idea? Let's Test.

Entrepreneurs have a habit of spending years and thousands of dollars on an idea that was never big enough to merit their time from the very beginning. Don't make that same mistake.


Before you try nailing and scaling a startup of your own, you need to be sure that your idea passes the "who cares" test. The Big Idea Canvas will take you step-by-step through this process. Download the canvas and fill it out on paper or engage with our digital interactive canvas online.

Download the Big Idea Canvas
Access the Interactive Canvas
Explore the 5 Key Elements of a Big Startup Idea:
Pain of the Customer
Potential of the Market
Prescription for the Pain
Positioning in the Market
Path to the Exit

Used by Top Startup Programs.

To ensure that students in its top-ranked entrepreneurship program (#2 by The Princeton Review) are focused on chasing big ideas, BYU is using the Big Idea Canvas as the first step for those participating in its world-class startup competitions.

#2 Entrepreneurship Program
(The Princeton Review)
#20 Startup Ecosystem Index

Startup Chile is a highly successful accelerator that has placed startup companies at top programs like YCombinator, 500 Startups, and TechStars. They're using the Big Idea Accelerator Program as their prep course for incoming cohorts.

(Startup Ecosystem Report)
#24 Entrepreneurship Program

To improve the process of turning patented university IP into scalable startups, the U of Utah's Technology & Venture Commercialization Office is using the Big Idea Canvas to spot ideas with high commercialization potential. And they love using it.

(The Princeton Review)
Big Idea Accelerator
Contributions from Startup Gurus:
Vinod Khosla
Scott Cook
Mike Maples, Jr.
Perri Gorman
Steve Blank
Jared Allgood
Charles Huang
Patrick Lee
McKay Thomas
Anthony Soohoo
Scott Case
Nolan Bushnell

Accelerate Your Big Idea by Doing the Right Things First.

For those of you who have completed the Big Idea Canvas and developed a Big Idea Hypothesis, we've built a virtual accelerator program to help you move your big idea through the customer-market fit validation process.


The program is based on the concepts and methods found in the book, Nail It Then Scale It, and other works centered on lean startup methodology. We hope this virtual idea accelerator will help you start and grow your idea into a successful venture.


Concepts in the accelerator program will introduce you to theoretical and practical thought-leadership in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship, shared by founders, investors, and innovators from all over the world.

Join the Big Idea Accelerator
3315 Mayflower Avenue, Suite 1
Lehi, Utah 84043
Tel: 801-653-3926
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