3 OBU student teams named finalists in Governor’s Cup competition

$114K cash for winners to be awarded April 7

LITTLE ROCK — Startup ideas from 14 finalist teams, representing 7 Arkansas colleges and universities, will be showcased live followed by the announcement of the winners of Arkansas Capital’s 23rd annual Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 7, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Fayetteville Public Library Event Center.

One student from each finalist team will take the stage at the luncheon to make a live, 90-second pitch summarizing their team’s idea. Audience members will have the chance to vote via their mobile devices for the best pitch in each of the three competition tracks, followed by the announcement of these winners and the overall competition winners.

The finalists are:

Winrock Automotive Small Business Division:
Covered by Grace – Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia

EzB – Central Baptist College, Conway

Good Fills Refillery – Lyon College, Batesville

Waderbuddy – Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia

High-Growth / Technology Division – Undergraduate Track:
AdCharta – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

BusyBees – Lyon College, Batesville

CarpeDerm – Harding University, Searcy and University of Central Arkansas, Conway

MicroCures – Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia

The SoLo – Harding University, Searcy

Innovate Arkansas High-Growth / Technology Division – Graduate Track:
Agri-Guard – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Care-Mate Technologies – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Partnr – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Pediatrica Therapeutics – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

U.N.C.L. Company – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Vitruvian Matrix – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Dhu Thompson of Little Rock is the title sponsor of the competition. The $114,000 cash prize pool includes $20,000 to the winners of both the graduate and undergraduate tracks of the High-Growth / Technology Division. Second place winners in these tracks will each receive $10,000; and $7,500 will be awarded to both third-place winners. A cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the winner of the Small Business Division, with the second- and third-place teams winning $7,500 and $5,000, respectively. The winners of each track’s elevator pitch competition will receive a $1,000 cash prize. All faculty advisors for all winning teams will each receive a $1,500 cash award. Crystal trophies will also be presented to student and faculty winners for display at their college or university.

Sixteen volunteer judges evaluated each business plan in Round 1 of the competition, and selected teams as finalists to advance to Round 2. Fifteen new volunteer judges convened to hear oral presentations from all finalists to decide the winners.

The luncheon will be emceed for the eighth year by Mike and Anne Preston. Mike Preston is the managing director and head of the Site & Incentive Group for Stephens, Inc. in Little Rock. Anne Preston is a broadcast journalist and a Little Rock-based news anchor for several local television stations across the country.

Arkansas Capital CEO Sam Walls said the company launched the Governor’s Cup in 2001 to address what it saw as a need for real-world entrepreneur education, but targeted to the state’s future entrepreneurs. “Everything we do here at Arkansas Capital is geared toward empowering entrepreneurs and strengthening communities. We wanted to provide our state’s colleges and universities with a highly-incentivized opportunity to teach their students to think entrepreneurially and encourage them to look at entrepreneurship as a career path,” he said.

Walls added that, unlike many collegiate business competitions around the country, the Governor’s Cup does not require student teams to launch their startups, but instead rewards them for the rigorous and real-world experience they gain as competitors. “Although there are several existing companies with roots in the Governor’s Cup, many past competitors tell us they have been positively impacted both personally and professionally beyond college because they applied the grassroots knowledge they gained from this experience,” he said.

Since the first competition in 2001, 3,165 college and university students have competed, submitting 977 business ideas. For 2023, 78 students comprising 23 teams from nine Arkansas universities entered the competition.

As of this year, the competition has awarded a total of $2.81 million to winners.

About Arkansas Capital
Arkansas Capital is a private, nonprofit lending corporation dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs in Arkansas and in surrounding states. Arkansas Capital offers flexible capital solutions to meet the unique needs of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and economic and community development projects, with emphasis on serving low-income, minority, and rural communities. Working in partnership with commercial banks, government agencies, and others at the local, state, regional, and national levels since 1957, Arkansas Capital has deployed more than $2.47 billion in capital financing.

Categories: Business