College students always need to make extra money, and if you're like me, I was always scouring the internet for ways to make a little cash.  Although opportunities like Swagbucks and MySurvey can earn you a couple sporadic dollars, MindSumo is the way to go if you want a reliable way to earn good money, as well as connect with potential employers.

What is MindSumo?

Founded in 2012 with money from Google Ventures and other venture capitalists, MindSumo offers college students a chance to earn money and make connections with business mentors. Visit the company’s Facebook page here or join it here.  

Companies direct most challenges to college students, though anyone with a valid email address can join. Students should register with their school (.edu) address. This MindSumo review will deal with how students can make money in their spare time and connect with potential employers in a meaningful way.

MindSumo gives students a chance to solve real problems. Instead of blindly sending out resumes and cover letters, introduce yourself to a company in a proactive way and earn money at the same time.

Co-founders Keaton Swett, Trent Hazy, and Rohan Puranik came up with the idea for MindSumo in 2011 for the Stanford Student Accelerator StartX. Business clients pay MindSumo a fee to post challenges. The website’s members then submit solutions to be assessed by the company.

Facebook, Hulu, Amazon, and Microsoft are just a few of the companies presenting challenges to the site's users. Over 75 Fortune 500 companies have used the website to find solutions to business problems.

Solvers vs. Businesses

After members have completed challenges, it may take up to two weeks for the host company to reviews all the answers. The winners will be notified by email, and receive their money through the website’s payment system.

Companies use winning solutions any way they choose. MindSumo will let you know if a business implemented your idea.  

Your solutions will be examined for clarity and whether they met deliverables (directly answered each section).

The companies rate solutions using a 10-point scale. Solutions that failed to address questions receive a rating of 5 stars or less. Answers with incomplete thoughts or grammatical errors also rate five stars or less. A two to five-star bonus may be added to unique ideas.

Earn a lot of cash by solving as many challenges as you can.  If you're interested in working for a particular company, follow them on MindSumo and solve the challenges they submit. A company will initiate contact with you using SumoMail if they are interested in speaking with you.


Some of the challenges posted by businesses include:

  • Develop an algorithm to help students avoid class conflicts, published by
  • Find ways to meet the healthcare needs of Millennials, posted by Kaiser Permanente
  • How should Prudential revamp retirement, posted by Prudential Insurance

Filter challenges by categories, including Computer Science, Food Science and Humanities, and Arts. You can receive updates on a challenge by “following” it. Any challenge you follow appears on your profile.

The food science category offers many fun challenges. Recently completed questions include,  

  • What new products would encourage Millennials to consume more beans (Bush Beans)
  • Can you make a pulled chicken sandwich that Sonic lovers will crave? (Sonic Drive In)
  • What should we name our new, protein-packed snack? (Anonymous Food Company)* 

Engineering challenges for college students are popular on MindSumo. Recent challenges in this field include “How will drones impact the future of engineering and construction?” The question, posed by Black and Veatch, received many responses and had several winners, who split the cash prize.  

To answer any challenge, you'll read a brief description on the challenge page. A list of deliverables and criteria will explain what the company would like to see regarding a solution.

*Some companies don’t reveal their identity.

How Can Students Earn Money on The Website?

Sign up for an account, and choose the challenges that interest you. There's no minimum or maximum number of challenges; submit to as many or as few as you like. Submit often, and you'll make more money.

You'll also make connections with more well-known companies by providing winning solutions. Executives and project coordinators will become familiar with your work. When you graduate, they may remember you and contact you for an interview.

You can respond with a paragraph or an essay that addresses each challenge. Follow the deliverables in the company’s description. All challenges have different requirements. The challenge page will also let you know how long you have to submit your response.

You'll earn excellent money when you solve challenges posed by companies. Follow these tips to create winning submission:

  • Structure your submission. State your observations, arguments, recommendations, and conclusions. Use bullet points and short sentences to make reading easier.
  • Add graphs, charts, photos and/or videos to give your submission an edge over other responses.
  • Take a firm position on the subject instead of just reciting facts. Use your knowledge to draw a definite conclusion.
  • Be creative, and avoid the most obvious solution. Look for something new and groundbreaking.
  • Follow instructions. Reread them a few times if you need to get a grip on what the company wants to see in a submission.
  • Provide valuable and original suggestions. For example, don’t tell them to promote on social media –suggest hashtags, target markets, and specific campaigns.

You can collaborate with other people on your solution. List the person as a contributor when you submit your project. Payouts are sent to one individual, not all people listed as contributors, so you’ll need to divide and distribute the winnings.

If a company choose your solution, your name and photo will appear on the challenge page, along with the amount you earned and other winners, if applicable.   

The Fastest Way to Earning Money on MindSumo

  • Register for an account using your .edu email address.
  • Use a promo code to earn $5 or another amount just for registering.
  • Verify your sign-up by checking your email. There’s a reward for successful verification.
  • Connect your account to your LinkedIn page for more cash.
  • Add campus ambassador to your profile for another reward.
  • Respond to your first challenge to earn money. You’ll start out with a simple challenge to quickly earn rewards. As time goes by, you can accept more difficult and higher-paying challenges.  (You may win more cash if your first solution is declared a winner.)

You can win money for writing reviews, solving math puzzles or sharing products. You might be paid to promote certain products.  Choose these projects if your primary concern is to make extra money online, not make connections with large enterprises.  

Some puzzles offer no cash prize but can help keep your mind sharp. Puzzle titles include “The Age of Alice's Father,” “Who Broke the Window,” “Unreliable Clock and “Two Trains and A Plane.” Solving these brainteasers can prepare you for solving bigger challenges.  

How to Get Your Money

Look for the Points page after you log in, and you’ll see a list of all the challenges you’ve solved and points earned.

Payouts range from $5 to $1,000 and are applied through Paypal. You’ll need to wait until you have $100 in your account to receive your first payout. After that, you can cash out when you have $5 or more in your account.

Some students have earned as much as $4,000 from winning submissions. If you win, your name and photo may be prominently displayed on the site.

MindSumo Reviews: Is It Legit?

MindSumo is a safe, legitimate website. It has received many positive reviews from college students who use the site. Employees at the company also give it high marks as a place to work, which is always a good sign for customers/users.

A few sites recommend MindSumo as an excellent way to earn extra cash and beef up your résumé. Articles about the company stress its importance as a stepping stone between college projects and solving real-life problems in the workplace.

Any MindSumo review you check out should be relatively recent, as the company continues to grow and offer new challenges and other offerings. The site has 300,000 registered users and has doubled its revenue every year since its inception.

In addition to challenges and cash payouts, the website offers job-hunting tips and advice.  It has a sample cover letter page, and a blog with helpful information on how to makes the most of the site and your studies.  The Scholarship Essays section offers a database of personal statements, project proposals, and essays to help you prepare for graduate school.

Final Thoughts

MindSumo offers college students a challenging way to earn money online. The site may be for you if you want to exercise your mind instead of watching videos or playing games for small payouts.  Or, consider our number one paid survey website, Swagbucks.

It also provides eager students another outlet to for sharing skills with companies before graduation. The contacts you make by winning challenges may help you secure a job or internship with the business of your choice.