Imagine Cup: Three Gold Medals, What a Night!

Editor’s note: The following post was written by Windows Azure MVP Rainer Stropek Oh yes, we won!

What a night! Of course I was hoping that the teams I had the privilege to accompany at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup here in St. Petersburg would win their categories - but I did not dare to dream of winning all of them. However, they really made it. We travel home with three gold medals :-) 

It was my first time to Imagine Cup and I am deeply impressed. I was invited to come to St. Petersburg as a mentor for two teams of students, one from India (Y’nots) and one from Austria (Zeppelin Studio). Both teams did a great job presenting their projects in front of the judges yesterday. Congratulations!

I am especially proud of the Y'nots team from India as I have consulted them for many months throughout their entire preparation for Imagine Cup. These guys did a great job. They convinced the jury and won the Connected Planet Award as well as the Windows Azure Challenge. I am an MVP for Windows Azure and therefore it is something special that they got this award.

In my opinion, Microsoft does an awesome job offering all these students a platform for presenting their ideas and inventions. It is not only the glamorous event of the worldwide finals here in St. Petersburg. I honestly have the impression that Microsoft’s activities for helping students to learn about IT and implement their ideas are an ongoing commitment.

My involvement in Imagine Cup started months ago in the MVP to MSP (Microsoft Student Partners) mentoring program. I had offered to work as a mentor using a website provided by Microsoft for us MVPs. Honestly, I had not expected that a team of students would approach me and invite me to be their mentor – but it happened. Only shortly after I had created my profile, a team from India contacted me and asked me if I could help them. We had regular contact over the last year using email and Skype. Technically these guys are brilliant already. I couldn’t tell them many new things about Azure or software development. However, they asked me for advice regarding their business plan, their ideas, team organization, etc. I was more than happy to help as it was very interesting for me to work with highly motivated students from a different part of the world.

Team Zeppelin Studio at Imagine Cup

My friends from the Y’nots team and I were happy when we heard that they made it into the Imagine Cup worldwide finals. This meant we would finally meet in person here in St. Petersburg. As I am the only MVP from Austria attending the finals, Microsoft asked me to coach a team from Austria, too (BTW - you have to check out their awesome game Schein). I have taken this request as an honor and agreed. I have tried my very best to support both teams by giving tips regarding the presentation and by trying to connect them to other interesting people who I know. 

You find more pictures in my Flickr album.

Imagine Cup was an exciting experience for me. These students have amazing ideas and the power and energy inspires everyone. In their projects you can feel the passion. They dare to dream and do not count every minute or Dollar they invest. They just want to learn and build something they can be proud of. Tomorrow I will travel home but the memories of Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg will stay for a long time. Being a mentor definitely paid off. Thank you, Microsoft, for facilitating it with the MVP to MSP mentoring program.

Again, congratulations to Zeppelin Studio and the Y'nots.

About the author


Rainer Stropek is co-founder and CEO of the company software architects and has been serving this role since 2008. At software architects Rainer and his team are developing the award-winning SaaS time tracking solution “time cockpit”. Previously, Rainer founded and led two IT consulting firms that worked in the area of developing software solution based on the Microsoft technology stack. Rainer is recognized as an expert concerning .NET development, software architecture and database management. He has written numerous books and articles on C#, database development, Windows Azure, WPF, and Silverlight. Additionally he regularly speaks at conferences, workshops and trainings in Europe and the US. Rainer graduated the Higher Technical School Leonding (AT) for MIS with honors and holds a BSc (Hons) Computer Studies of the University of Derby (UK). You can follow Rainer on Twitter and Facebook or read his blogs at and