Introducing the 2024 Imagine Cup World Championship Judges!

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Microsoft Tech Community - Latest Blogs - .


Get ready for the pinnacle of startup innovation as the Imagine Cup World Championship unfolds live at Microsoft Build on May 21! Three outstanding startups from across the globe are poised to showcase their AI-solutions on the global stage, vying for the coveted title and a chance to win USD100,000 and a mentorship session with Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella.

Since the start of the 2024 season back in October, the competition has been a journey of collaboration with expert mentors and growth for participating startups. From a pool of tens of thousands of applications, the field was narrowed to the elite semifinalists, and now, only three world finalists remain.


As the anticipation mounts for the grand finale, our esteemed panel of judges face a daunting task. Drawing on their industry expertise and personal insights, they will meticulously evaluate each startup’s pitch and engage in Q&A sessions. Their evaluation criteria extends beyond mere innovation to encompass the responsible use of AI technology, accessibility for all users and the fundamental business viability of each startup.

The culmination of this journey promises to be nothing short of spectacular. Live on the global stage, the judges’ decision will be unveiled, determining the ultimate champion of the 2024 Imagine Cup!


But who are the discerning minds tasked with determining the 2024 World Champion?

Let’s meet the judges!  



Ali Partovi

CEO, Neo; Co-founder of


Ali Partovi heads Neo, a startup accelerator, diverse mentorship community, and VC fund that helps tomorrow's tech leaders maximize their potential. Ali invests in people smarter than himself and has backed Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, & Uber.


He grew up in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, attended Harvard, and sold his first startup, LinkExchange, in 1998. He co-founded (#HourOfCode) to bring Computer Science to classrooms. He's passionate about education and loves climbing, guitar, puzzles, and family.




Annie Pearl

Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Ecosystems


As Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Ecosystems, Annie Pearl leads a globally-distributed organization that empowers current and future customers to discover and engage with AI capabilities on the Microsoft Cloud. Teams under her oversight develop and build on platforms, such as Founders Hub and Microsoft Learn, to reach new audiences, skill them on Microsoft’s technology, and help them build the most innovative and AI-driven solutions.  


Annie joins Microsoft with +15 years of tech leadership experience in both startup ventures and established enterprises. She served as the Chief Product Officer at Calendly, a premier scheduling automation platform. There, she led the end-to-end strategy and execution of the product vision and roadmap. Under her guidance, Calendly achieved remarkable growth, solidifying its position as the leading scheduling automation tool in the market.


Before her tenure at Calendly, Annie held the role of Chief Product Officer at Glassdoor, where she shaped the product vision and user experience for millions of job seekers and employers worldwide. Earlier in her career, she led Enterprise product teams at Box, contributing to its trajectory both before and after its 2015 IPO. Notably, Annie also played a pivotal role as the VP of Product and a founding team member at Xpert Financial, an early-stage financial services startup.


Annie started her career as a Lawyer and held roles in management consulting before transitioning to the tech industry.


Elnaz Sarraf

Founder & CEO ROYBI (Roybi Robot & RoybiVerse)


Elnaz is a successful entrepreneur and CEO, renowned for her innovations in the field of EdTech, AI, and Robotics. She is the founder of ROYBI® Robot, an AI-powered smart toy that teaches children language and STEM skills. This groundbreaking product has won several prestigious awards, including being named one of TIME Magazine's Best Inventions in Education and winning the World Economic Forum smart toy award.
With over 15 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, Elnaz has established herself as a leader in the industry. As the CEO of ROYBI, an investor-backed EdTech company, she has raised millions in funding to focus on early childhood education and self-guided learning through artificial intelligence.
Elnaz's journey to success has been shaped by her early experiences growing up as a woman in Iran, where opportunities were limited. However, her drive and passion for entrepreneurship led her to the U.S., where she has significantly contributed to the tech industry. Her achievements include being selected as Inc. Top 100 Female Founders, Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Milestone Maker, named the Woman of Influence by Silicon Valley Business Journal, and Entrepreneur of The Year in Silicon Valley.




Whether you’re a tech enthusiast, aspiring entrepreneur, or simply someone who loves to witness the inspiring passion and innovation of students – this is an event you won’t want to miss! Gain insights into cutting-edge use cases of AI technology and discover how these startups are shaping the future to make a real impact on the world.


Tune incheer for your favoritesfollow along, and get inspired by the ingenuity of these student founders.

Mark your calendars for May 21 to witness this moment!


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