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This challenge is closed and the winners have been announced

Challenge winners
GOLD: Tara Moran
Tara won Gold in the Sony Pictures LifeStart Challenge. Her submission demonstrated her lateral thinking and her ability to think outside the box. She’s pitched us a concept that could be prototyped, tested and brought to market.
SILVER: Nikki Pham and Mark Ramsey
Nikki and Mark won Silver in the Sony Pictures LifeStart Challenge as a part of a team. They’ve demonstrated integrated, lateral thinking and have demonstrated their ability to explain and prototype digital products that are beautifully visualised.
BRONZE: Sandy Bassi
Sandeep has demonstrated her ability to conduct primary user research, approach people on the streets and conduct qualitative interviews with them. We were impressed with her empathy and her ability to contextualise social phenomena. With her Virgin Money Giving submission, she won Bronze in the LifeStart Challenge.

What you need to know

The challenge

Gifting has historically made up a large portion of DVD sales. However, as watching movies or TV series has shifted from DVDs towards digital services, it has become harder to “gift wrap”.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is looking for a way to boost sales by recreating the warm glow of giving or receiving a viewing experience.



How many times do you tune in a TV series or a film online vs watching a DVD? And when did you last gift someone a DVD for their birthday? In recent years there has been a shift away from buying DVDs towards watching movies digitally – and sales and subscriptions moved to this online space easily. However, some areas haven’t moved quite so effortlessly and left a shortfall in sales – and that is gifting digital films and series.

Gifting has been an important part of the DVD market for film studios for years. Did you know that peak gifting occasions such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s or Father’s Day led to almost 1/4 of the annual DVD sales?

As viewing shifted from DVDs towards digital services these “gifted” purchases have stalled – gifts now contribute just 18% of total DVD sales and very little of digital movie purchases. Films and tv series themselves are still seen as an exciting gift, however, there are several downsides that stop people from gifting digital movies.

Based on user research, we know that people feel they are:
– Missing out on the unwrapping experience of opening a gift
– Feeling that a gift card for a digital movie service is not personal enough
– They don’t know Lack of knowledge about how the recipient watches movies and therefore doesn’t know where to go to buy the digital movie (iTunes? Amazon? Google Play?)

We are looking for you to come up with an exciting concept that would make gifting movies feel meaningful and help boost sales yet again. What experience or extra would make you feel excited about receiving or gifting movies to friends and family?

What skills do you need to enter a challenge

What skills do you need to enter a challenge

Self-Reflection: It’s very likely you’ll first jot down what you miss about receiving movies yourself before you begin to think of how to solve this challenge for a business. Think about the user research insights and how you’d improve them.

Creativity: Before you say you’re not creative, we’ll stop you right there. Everyone is. Creativity can be practised as it’s basically just about combining ideas and insights in new ways. Grab a piece of paper or your journal and put these ideas on paper!

Self-Confidence: We believe you have what it takes to this Challenge. We think you are smart and have unique thoughts. And you’ve received a gift in the past for sure, so you know how it feels! All you need to do is let us know how to make it feel better.

For additional inspiration and tips, head to our learning section.

Ideas to get you thinking

Think about the gifts you’ve received and how you’ve felt about them. What gifts felt special and what exactly made them special? You might want to grab some post-its and jot down notes about the most memorable gifts you’ve received and perhaps the least meaningful. If you get stuck, ask your friends or family members about the best and worst gifts they’ve ever received.

Once you have plenty of ideas, think about what you could do differently to make the gifts more special to the recipients?

Asking yourself these questions is a good starting point and you’re well on the way to successfully submitting to a LifeStart Challenge!


Remember, you can be as creative and visionary as you like. We want to see great ideas and innovative applications of new technologies.

Join us