Young developers from across the world are competing for the chance to win a prize of up to $100,000 in this year’s Imagine Cup.
The annual competition encourages students to team up and use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications that shape how people live, work and play.
The final takes place at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond from July 23 to 25.
Last year’s Imagine Cup was won by X.GLU from the Czech Republic. The team – consisting of Marek Novak, Tomas Pikous and Barbara Suchanova – created a solution to help parents and doctors monitor diabetes in young children.
The European News Centre caught up with Suchanova to find out what it felt like to win the Imagine Cup, what the team learned and what they are up to now.
What was your idea?
We created a complete solution for families with diabetic children. It makes their treatment easier to manage and gives parents complete control over their child’s condition. Our solution consists of custom glucose meter, mobile app for children and web app for parents.
Why did you enter the Imagine Cup? Did you think you would win?
It’s impossible to produce a good product without networking; it’s an essential part of the start-up culture and business. The Imagine Cup was perfect for that. We also wanted to show our idea to the world and validate it. However, we didn’t think we could win because we were competing against many innovative projects. We were grateful just to get through the first round. The fact that we won the final completely blew our minds.
Was the process of entering and competing easy?
People from Microsoft helped us with whatever we needed, such as holding a presentation skills workshop that helped us a lot with preparing our final presentation.
How was the whole experience of going to Microsoft headquarters and competing?
It was an awesome experience to visit the heart of the Microsoft in Seattle. Experiencing the atmosphere and networking with the other teams was very inspirational. We felt like being part of the Imagine Cup final was already a victory for us.
What did it feel like to win?
It was a surprise, but we felt really honoured. It gave us confidence that our project was worth putting out into the market.
What was it like being mentored by Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella?
Presenting our project to Satya was a unique opportunity, and we received valuable feedback from him. He offered advice on the further development of the project.
What has happened since the final?
Thanks to the publicity that came from winning, we have built contacts and received offers. I don’t think any of us can express how much this competition gave us in terms of technical knowledge, marketing and presentation skills. All this is priceless, and I wish that everybody could experience that to see how challenging and amazing it is when you try to release a product into the market.
Would you recommend the Imagine Cup to others?
If you have a great idea that makes sense from a technology and marketing point of view, go for it. Apply for the Imagine Cup with a project that you want to put into the market; don’t make something up just for the competition. Our credit card glucose meter idea was in development for a while until we decided to enter the Imagine Cup, and our knowledge about market and business paid off.