Competition Rules

  1. Not every circumstance can be anticipated. The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF) reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations, or the spirit of the competition.
  2. The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition is open to all faculty- or mentor-sponsored full- and part-time, degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at any of Arkansas’s two- or four-year public, private, or independent colleges and universities. Eligible students from any program of study on campus – agriculture, business, education, health, tourism, etc. – are encouraged to compete. Teams can be composed of students from a mixture of disciplines. Teams can also include students from more than one college and/or university.
  3. Enrollment is defined as classes taken during the 2014 summer session(s), 2014 fall semester, and/or the 2015 spring semester. Students who have graduated prior to the competition, but were enrolled during any of the above mentioned semesters, are still eligible to compete.
  4. Teams are encouraged to also have graduate and undergraduate students working together for the purpose of cross-pollination of experience and mentoring opportunities. Teams with any one member enrolled in graduate school during the academic year must enter in the graduate competition.
  5. AEAF relies on students and advisors to verify enrollment criteria. AEAF reserves the exclusive right to determine the validity of enrollment.
  6. Students may compete individually or as a team. The maximum team size cannot exceed six qualified students.
  7. Each team is required to have at least one faculty member as its advisor. Teams are allowed to have non-faculty members as advisors with prior approval from AEAF before January 30, 2015. Please contact Shannon Frazeur at AEAF by e-mail or by phone:; 501-374-9247.
  8. The business plan may be prepared under advisor supervision for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. The plan may also be prepared under advisor supervision with no official credit.
  9. AEAF manages the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competition online through iStart, a project of the Ewing M. Kauffman Foundation. A team must set up an account in iStart to enter the competition. See “Team Registration on iStart” for more information and instructions.
  10. Each team must submit an “Intent to Compete” via iStart by 5:00 p.m. Friday, January 30, 2015, whether they intend to enter a business plan or are still undecided. See “Submitting Intents to Compete” for more information and instructions.
  11. In addition to the Undergraduate and Graduate competition tracks, teams also have the opportunity to compete in the Agriculture and Innovation tracks. Teams planning to enter one or both of these divisions should indicate these intents accordingly while completing the Intent to Compete in iStart. If only one teams enters a track, there will be no competition in that track.
  12. Teams cannot submit more than one business plan into the competition.
  13. The management team outlined in the plan must include the names of individuals (if any) who are not associated with the college or university. Presenting group members must be eligible students and have a key role on the company’s management team (i.e., CEO, COO, VP, etc.). Non-student members of the venture’s management team may not participate in any competition presentations.
  14. Previous efforts to establish the business or participating in business-like activities which include, but are not limited to the following: attempts to raise capital, developing and presenting the business plan to potential investors, and conducting substantial market research outside of the 2014-2015 academic year will be disqualified. This includes business plans that were submitted to AEAF in previous Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competitions.
  15. The business plan must be for a new and independent venture in the seed, start-up, or early-growth stages. Plans that include proposals for buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, spin-outs from existing corporations, and other consulting projects or analyses are not eligible. Non-profit proposals are also not eligible. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been commercialized previously. The business may assume a technology or product/service that has been licensed from another company, private inventor, or university with their written approval. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
  16. The business should not have received more than $200,000 in equity-related capital (such as seed capital or institutional funding), or generated more than $100,000 in gross revenue prior to the current academic year. Revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be excluded from this provision.
  17. The business plan must represent the original work of each contestant. Each submission indicates that the business plan is the original work of the author(s). Any team submitting a plagiarized business plan will be disqualified. The author(s) will retain all rights to the plan regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition, except as stated elsewhere in these rules.
  18. The plans may not contain fabricated information about (but not limited to) the following: backgrounds, experience and educational levels of members of the management team, stage of product development, product performance claims, or market survey results.
  19. Due to the nature of the competition, AEAF will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any competitor. By participating in the competition, competitors agree that neither AEAF, Arkansas Capital Corporation Group (ACCG); nor members of the judging panels; sponsors, nor their designate organizations; assume any liability for any disclosures of business plan information which may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member, or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the competition.
  20. Plans are limited to a maximum of 30 pages, including the Executive Summary and excluding the Cover Page, Table of Contents, and Appendices. Pages beyond this limit will be omitted from judging.
  21. Appendices should be included only when they support the findings, statements, and observations in the plan.
  22. Summary of financial data should include a five year pro-forma cash flow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. Include an explanation to investors of how much capital will be required in the first and future rounds of investment, how funds from the first round will be used, and what milestones will be met using first round of funding. Delineate possible exit strategies and identify companies or categories of companies for which this company might be an attractive acquisition candidate in future years. Business plans may include the expected ROI for investors and the proposed structure of the deal, i.e., loan, preferred A stock, convertible note, etc.
  23. Plans must be typed in Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman with a 10- or 12-point font size. Page margins must be one inch. Paragraphs must be double-spaced. Pages must be numbered.
  24. Business plans must be submitted via upload to iStart by 5:00 p.m. Friday, February 20, 2015.
  25. By participating in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup, competitors agree to allow AEAF and ACCG, and organizations designated by them, the unlimited right to videotape, photograph, audiotape, transcribe, or otherwise record all public sessions of the competition; including, but not limited to, oral presentations and question-and-answer sessions.
  26. Competitors also agree that AEAF and ACCG and/or their designate organizations may use any such transcriptions and/or recording(s) (in whole or part) for such publicity and marketing purposes as their organizations may see fit, including those which may result in remuneration.
  27. The Oral Presentation Rounds of the competition are open to the public. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by competitors should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm (including print or broadcast through media, including the Internet), and competitors should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions. Neither ACCG, AEAF, judges, sponsors, nor their designate organizations, assume any duty to screen or otherwise control the identity of those attending, viewing or hearing all or part of these public sessions. Competitors agree that, by entering the competition, they have been made aware that such attendees, viewers and recipients may include members of the media and potential competitors in addition to members of the business, education, and financial communities; students; and faculty.
    • Teams that advance to the oral presentation rounds must submit a PowerPoint presentation to AEAF for their oral presentation. They will also have the opportunity to modify and submit their business plans based on feedback received from judges in the preliminary round in advance of oral presentations.
    • Once a team begins its oral presentation, no one is allowed to enter or leave the presentation room until the end of the presentation.
    • Team members are not allowed to bring food or beverages into the rooms during their presentation.
    • Teams may bring product samples for their presentations. Promotional items or giveaways for judges are prohibited. Paper materials for the judges are allowed, but not required.
    • Team members cannot observe other teams’ oral presentations until after they have finished their presentation.
  • Students, advisors, or any other guests in the room who engage in communication with a team during its oral presentation, such as (but not limited to) head movements, hand gestures, or signaling, will be asked to leave the room and the team will be disqualified from the competition.


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