Randall Big Idea


Welcome to the Randall Family Big Idea Competition with $100,000 in cash prizes for Pitt students!

Randall Big Idea
randall family big idea competition

This competition is an experience-based learning opportunity for Pitt students with big ideas. Discover how to take your big idea to the next level towards startup creation. The competition spans February and March of each year and awards a grand prize of $25,000 to the idea with the most startup promise. Additionally, cash prizes are awarded for first, second, and third places, plus people’s choice. The competition is offered to ALL Pitt undergraduate and graduate students across all schools and departments. Post-doctoral fellows are included. Since its inception in 2009, the competition has attracted hundreds of interdisciplinary teams seeking to bring their big ideas to market.

The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is made possible through the generous support of the Randall family. Robert P. Randall was president and chief executive officer of the Three Rivers Aluminum Company (TRACO), a prominent regional door and window company, which was acquired by Alcoa and is now a division of Kawneer. Mr. Randall continues to give back to the community through his position on the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh, his work with the United States Chamber of Commerce, and as a board member of both the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.



or attend an info session!





Meet the Big Idea Competition Team!

Babs Carryer

Director, Education and Outreach – Competition Director

Babs Carryer is the director of education and outreach. Her role encompasses programs to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship across campus to all students, post-docs, faculty, researchers and clinicians. Babs teaches the Benchtop to Bedside and Academic Entrepreneurship technology commercialization courses to researchers, clinicians and graduate students. Babs is a serial entrepreneur, writer and educator. She blogs about entrepreneurship on NewVenturist.

Susan Dorff

Manager for Student Programs – Competition Manager

Susan Dorff comes to the Innovation Institute to run the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Living Learning Community, a themed residence hall that focuses on integrating freshmen students into the Innovation Institute as well as teaching interactively the ideas behind innovation and entrepreneurship. Susan additionally assists with other institute wide education and outreach programming. Previously Susan had been with the University of Pittsburgh undergraduate College of Business, the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida and Connecticut College.


Joanna Sutton

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Joanna is a Business Innovation Advisor with Brights Lights Innovations helping small businesses create profitable growth with accelerated times to market.  Since 2007, she held various B2B Marketing Executive roles with Westinghouse Electric Company.  She helped create numerous business opportunities leveraging a range of advanced technologies.

Randy Eager

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Randy has over 30 years of successful start-up, product commercialization, sales, and management experience in a wide range of companies and industries. A four-time entrepreneur with one exit under his belt, Randy has been successful as an executive, a business development professional, and an investor. At Carnegie Mellon University he managed corporate relations for the College of Engineering.

Don Morrison

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Don is a serial entrepreneur and visionary leader who has consistently leveraged technology to improve the customer experience and top and bottom-line results. Don has been involved in the growth and development of several businesses, including American Eagle Outfitters, from one to 165 stores as President and CEO, Sundance Catalog Company as Executive Director, and Bear Creek Corporation as Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. He is currently chairman of deal flow for BlueTree Allied Angels.

Jeanine McCreary

Entrepreneurship/Competition Coach

Jeanine is the President of the McCreary Group, a company which helps large and small organizations with project analysis, development, implementation, and management.


Pepper Hamilton legal office hours offered to all RFBIC registrants!  Their schedule is below:

All times are 9am to noon

Tuesday January 30, GSCC 116, Pierre Queiroz De Oliveira, Ph.D.

Wednesday February 14, GSCC 116, David Smith, J.D.

Tuesday February 27, GSCC 116, Yason Smedy Allie, J.D.

Thursday March 15, GSCC 116, Alicia Palladino, Ph.D., J.D.

Thursday March 22, GSCC 204, Nicholas Kokkinos, J.D.


Mr. Yason Smedy Allie

Title:  Associate

Specialty: Corporate and Securities Law

Bio:  Yason is an associate in Pepper Hamilton LLP’s Corporate and Securities practice group. Yason’s practice focuses on representing technology and life sciences startups in company formation matters, debt and equity financings, commercial arrangements and corporate governance matters. Yason also regularly represents companies in mergers and acquisitions.

Website Link: http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/yason-s-allie/


Nicholas Kokkinos

Title: Associate

Specialty: Intellectual Property Law

Bio: Nicholas Kokkinos is an attorney with a materials science and engineering background and 9 years’ experience as a patent examiner.  He is well versed in diverse technologies such as polymer composites, ceramics, metallurgy, and semiconductors.  His technical experience also includes information technology, particularly Linux configuration and administration.

Website Link: http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/nicholas-c-kokkinos/


Pierre Queiroz de Oliveira, Ph.D.

Title: Associate

Specialty: Intellectual Property Law

Bio: Pierre is an associate in the Health Sciences Department and Intellectual Property Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP. Pierre is a registered patent attorney and concentrates his practice in intellectual property including intellectual property transactions and counseling with a substantial portion of his work directed to patent and trademark preparation and prosecution, and due diligence and licensing matters in the pharmaceutical, biologic, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, chemical, medical device and other health and life sciences fields.  Pierre routinely represents entrepreneurs and startup companies.

Website Link: http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/pierre-e-queiroz-de-oliveira/


Alicia M. Palladino, Ph.D.

Title: Associate

Specialty: Intellectual Property Law

Bio: Alicia is an associate in the Health Sciences Department and Intellectual Property Transactions and Rights Management Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP, resident in the Pittsburgh office. Alicia currently concentrates her work on patent preparation and prosecution, due diligence and licensing matters.

Website Link: http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/alicia-m-palladino/


David Smith

Title: Of Counsel

Specialty: Corporate and Securities and Intellectual Property Law

Bio: David is a corporate lawyer focusing on intellectual property transactions, venture financings and regulatory matters for life sciences companies and investors, is of counsel with Pepper Hamilton LLP. David is a member of the firm’s Health Sciences Department.  Mr. Smith’s intellectual property-related work includes IP transactions, regulatory issues and licensing. His corporate practice is concentrated in the organization, financing and growth of life sciences companies, and he is an authority on the legal issues surrounding the use of human biological materials. He frequently speaks at universities and trade conferences on commercial development of tissue, cell and stem cell technologies.

Website Link: http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/david-s-smith/


randall family big idea

MediCase, a phone case that doubles as a pillbox, connected to an app that sends medication reminders, wins the 2017 RFBIC Grand Prize of $25,000. Here the team is pictured with Mr. Bob Randall.





Don’t forget the 2018 Awards Showcase on March 29th!





Other Media: Randall Family Big Idea Competition Gives Golden Tickets to Student Business Endeavors, By Micaela Fox Corn, Pitt Chronicle, Issue Date: April 5, 2017

Ambient Cybersecurity and Tiny Lasers Win Big Prizes for ECE Students at Startup Competition by Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer, 4/26/2017

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