There are three phases in the Y-Prize process. During each phase, all teams are eligible to receive monetary rewards, as noted within each phase description. Additionally, BYU and the Ballard Center reserve the right to disqualify any entry that does not comply with Y-Prize guidelines and rules (see below).

Phase 1: Best Idea Category

Please turn in:


Students must submit a two-page document describing what their idea for their product will be. Students should include a description of the country of choice and its surrounding environment, a description of a possible future client base and a description of their sales strategy. Students should describe their idea and how it is unique and valuable to the current market. This should include a description of their research, partnerships and useful contacts. They should define assumptions and provide plans of how to test defined assumptions. Students should validate their idea via their research. (For example: using a similar social venture in another country can validate the students’ idea). Students are NOT expected to have done any prototyping or testing of their product for the Best Idea submission.

All decisions made by the Ballard Center regarding adherence to contest rules are final. The selection of contest winners is final.


Teams must submit a short video. Videos will be subject to a screening process for Honor Code adherence and appropriateness. Videos will be a 60-90 second elevator pitch describing the students’ unique model. No video can be longer than 90 seconds total. Late submissions will not be accepted. Graphics in videos are not required but encouraged.

The Best Idea Competition will award winning video and paper submissions with up to $250, dependent upon the quality of the idea. Multiple candidates can win. The winners and award amount will be determined by a panel of judges. Not all entries will be guaranteed to win. 

Phase 2: Best Product Category

Best Product winners come from teams that have developed an actual distribution model that has been tested in the real world. Teams submitting in this category may still be working on developing a sustainable business model for the product, but the model itself is well defined. Submissions should be a document roughly two pages in length. Best Product winners earn $500 to $1,000.

Successful Best Product entries have:

  • Actual, if simplified, instances of the product or service that can be shown to a judging panel.
  • Evidence that the model can be successful is provided in detail.
  • Plans for developing a successful venture around the product that are well thought-out and thoroughly described.
  • An explanation of the idea and not the problem itself.

Examples of questions to address:

  • What is your new venture idea? Support evidence with research and practical testing.
    • Example: What will you do, and how specifically will you do it (in detail)? 
  • How will you measure your success, and what milestones do you intend to achieve over time?
    • Example: How many people will you help, and in what time frame?
  • How do you plan to scale over time?
    • Example: Discuss your unit economics. Imagine you have perfected your pilot model. How will you grow your model? (Sustainability through scalability)
  • How do you plan to ensure your idea is effective at creating impact relative to your cost?

Phase 3: Best Venture Category

This highest category is for teams that have an actual service with a sustainable venture built upon it. Winning in this category requires more than just an idea and more than a service – you must convince a judging team that you are the right team with an exceptional plan that will one day help millions of people.

Please prepare a plan for your three-month pilot and beyond, based on the following:

Executive Summary (∼1 page)

  • Summarize your distribution-focused solution.
  • Summarize the impact you will have (for example, how many people you will help in what time frame)

Full Venture Plan (∼8 pages)

  • Business Model: How will your new organization distribute the solar lamps? Do you have a viable and tested marketing strategy? Consider how you will specifically reach your “customers”, which suppliers or partnerships are needed, how you will show that the venture is reliably sustainable, and other operational aspects of running an organization. The se­rvice should be as robust and market-tested as possible.
  • Impact: How will you assess that your service is cost effective at creating a positive social benefit? What metrics will you use to measure your success? Based on those metrics, what goals will you meet in three months, one year, and two years?
  • Pilot Location: Where will you pilot? What are the specific needs of the people in that region, and what specific challenges might you face during the pilot? Who are your specific contacts in the region?
  • Future envisioning: Imagine you have piloted and refined your model. What is your plan to continue growing? Consider how you might expand, how you might locate the financial and human capital resources needed to grow, and what challenges you may face. Who will continue the venture?
  • Budget: Please create a budget with approximately ten major line items. Include columns forecasting costs out for three months, one year, and two years.
  • Management Team: Who is on the team now, who is full time, and what are their roles? Who needs to be added prior to the pilot launch, and after two years of growth? Organization charts are welcome.
  • Details count. Ideally this plan will be informational enough that it could be fully implemented by another person if you were to share it.

Candidate Statement (∼1 page)

  • What motivates you to launch your venture?
  • Why will you be successful? What makes you stand out above others? Consider what makes your team qualified and include any prior entrepreneurial or leadership experience. Be specific about your accomplishments.

Appendices (optional, limited to 10 pages)

  • If desired, you are welcome to include an additional 10 pages of appendices. Consider including evidence that will back up your claims or more information on certain aspects of your proposal.

Best Venture winners receive up to $25,000 and are eligible for an additional $12,000 in milestone funding.

Rights to Disqualify

BYU, the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance, the Social Venture Academy, and the Y-Prize Challenge reserve the right in each of their sole discretions to disqualify any entry it determines to be ineligible or that does not comply with these terms and conditions. A project entry that is not viewable online for any reason or that is not received by the Ballard Center by the application will not be considered. 

The author of each submission will retain ownership of their entries. However, by submitting the video and paper into the Best Idea Competition, the author grants the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance and its respective employees, agents and assigns a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive and unconditional license to edit, modify, reproduce, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, adapt and/or use or reuse your submitted plan, any materials submitted or prepared for use in the Best Idea Competition, your name, image, voice, likeness, statements, background, and biographical information in any and all media (including but not limited to print, electronic, video, digital, radio, television, internet, etc.) for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic, or educational purposes. To the extent any monies are earned as a result of the license granted, the monies shall be used to defray the costs of future Best Idea Competitions or otherwise to support social innovation issues by or through the Brigham Young University Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance.

By entering the Best Idea Competition, you acknowledge and agree that you own all of the content in your submitted plan or otherwise have obtained any required permissions to use such content, and that your submitted plan does not include any content (e.g. trademarks, company names, photos, music, work of art, or images) that infringes or violates the rights of any third party.

Entrants should not have an expectation of confidentiality with respect to any data or information submitted, discussed, or presented in connection with the Best Idea Competition. Due to the nature of the competition, judges, reviewers, staff, the audience, or others will not be asked or required to agree to a non-disclosure agreement in connection with any plan submitted in connection with the Best Idea Competition.

You authorize the Ballard Center, BYU, and those acting in pursuant to its authority to record, broadcast, and distribute via any means (e.g. print, radio, television, internet, photograph, video, audio, digital, or otherwise) your plan and your participation in the Best Idea Competition, and to use your name, photograph, or likeness, as well as your testimonials, quotes, comments, and/or biography for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic, or educational purposes. Any such recordings or broadcasts shall be the property of the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance.

You release the University and those acting pursuant to its authority from liability from any and all claims arising out of or relating in any way to your participation in the Best Idea Competition.