Like long-awaited spring, the annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business-plan competition approaches, and student entrepreneurs from across the state are honing their pitches.
The DWR Governor’s Cup is the state’s premier business-plan competition, and similar events are held in Oklahoma and Nevada. The three states made up the home territory for the old Donrey media empire. The winners from the Gov’s Cup contests in each state meet in May for the Tri-State Governor’s Cup in Las Vegas.
Arkansas teams have fared well over the years at Tri-State. They’ve fared well in international competitions as well. This year, as usual, teams from the Hill are making their mark.
UA business-plan teams under the guidance of startup mentor Carol Reeves are like John McDonnell (and now Chris Bucknam and don’t forget women’s coach Lance Harter) and UA track teams. They just keep winning championships. The only question — do they call the Hogs after winning titles like Razorback track teams do?
UA teams recently won the prestigious IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition at the University of Western Ontario (Picasolar), placed third at the Cardinal Challenge at the University of Louisville (EverClean Coating Solutions) and fourth at the Spirit of Enterprise Graduate Business Competition at the University of Cincinnati (ParadigMed). The Ville and Cincy, by the way, are considered startup heavyweights.
Another UA team, HomeDx, will compete at the Global New Venture Competition on March 13 at the University of Nebraska.
Colleges and universities across the state have upped their business-plan game in recent years. John Brown’s Agricultural Food Systems comes to mind. JBU teams have fared well at both the state and tri-state Gov’s Cup competitions.
This year’s up-and-comer could come from Arkadelphia. Ouachita’s TrustedWills.com from OBU junior Lindsey Fowler is competing at this year’s Governor’s Cup and plans to officially launch June 1. Trusted Wills won the recent OBU competition and went on to win the Battle of the Ravine competition pitting winning teams from Ouachita and cross-street rival Henderson State. (Yes, the Battle of the Ravine even extends to business-plan competitions. Somebody please show us a better D-2 rivalry.) Fowler was even featured in an online ADG feature.
Oh…the dates. The Cup will happen April 10 from the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. Semifinalists and finalists will be announced March 13 and then oral presentations from those selected will be heard April 4-5 in Fayetteville. Tri-State is May 20-22.
Even if you’re not involved in the startup community or connected to a participating team or school, the Governor’s Cup is quite a spectator event. Audience participation determines the Governor’s Cup pitch winners, and it’s always quite a show.
In addition to the prestige involved, there’s a little cash on the line too.
Here’s a roundup of the 2013 cash awards, courtesy of the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation: