Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Competition

2016 Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Collegiate Business Plan Winners

Las Vegas, Nev., May 26 – Teams from the University of Arkansas / Fayetteville and John Brown University in Siloam Springs tonight claimed $82,500 of the $118,000 cash prize pool in the ninth annual Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Collegiate Business Plan Competition at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

VivImmune, representing the University of Arkansas, was the overall Graduate Division winner and also won the Graduate Division’s Elevator Pitch Competition. Team members are Corey Coston, Drew McKinnon, and Sean Smith. The cash prize for first place is $30,000 for the team, and $3,500 for the team’s advisors, Carol Reeves and Cynthia Sides. The VivImmune team’s business plan presented a cancer treatment platform that combines immunotherapy with drug delivery. The team chose Smith to make its elevator pitch at tonight’s awards dinner – and his efforts resulted in another $2,000 in winnings.

Second place graduate division winner Actio Systems, also from the University of Arkansas, won a $20,000 cash prize award plus another $3,500 for Reeves and Sides, who also advised the team. Actio Systems’ HIPAA-compliant web/app-based platform helps appointment-based businesses address lost revenue and diminished customer service caused by cancelled and no-show appointments.

Heart Optic, representing the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, took first place honors in the Undergraduate Division, with a trophy and a $30,000 cash prize presented to team members Yusuf Shurbaji and Claye Hammock, and their advisor, Maurice Haff. Heart Optic produces the Heart Bar™, a medical device that enables continuous CPR during image-guided procedures and ends caregiver exposure to X-ray radiation.

Natural State Bedding from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., won second place, with team members Jacob Hoskins, Calvin Huff, Walker Martin, and Jeremiah Moore pocketing a $20,000 cash prize and an additional $3,500 for its advisors, Eva Fast, and Elana Carson. The team’s product, EcoAvia, is a unique blend of organic materials that has the potential to increase flock health and quality; lower energy, ventilation, and propane costs; and increase production by allowing farms to raise at least one more flock per growing season. In addition, the spent product could be sold as a fertilizer.

Project Pediatrics, also representing the University of Oklahoma, was the winner the Undergraduate Division Elevator Pitch Competition.

The Tri-State competition is an invitation-only event for the first- and second-place winners in the Graduate and Undergraduate divisions of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competitions in Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma. All twelve invited teams made the trip to Las Vegas to present their business ideas today to teams of five judges from across the country in both the graduate and undergraduate division. Tonight’s winners were announced at the Tri-State Awards Dinner at the Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas.
“The quality of the business ideas and the intelligence and energy of the competitors from all three states was as impressive as ever,” said Rush Deacon, CEO of Arkansas Capital in Little Rock. “Arkansas teams have historically performed very well in the nine-year history of this Las Vegas competition, and this year was no exception. We are proud of the students and the faculty advisors and truly excited about the innovation that was showcased today by the teams.”

For the 2016 Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma state competitions, more than 420 undergraduate and graduate students and 120 teams from 28 colleges and universities across the three states. The three state competition prize pools ($154,000 each) and the $118,000 prize pool are provided from a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Since the first competition in 2008, Tri-State has attracted 1,420 innovative ideas from 156 campuses and brought more than 4,600 college students the opportunity to compete for $5.7 million in cash prize awards.

2015 Tri-State Awards Dinner

Click here to download the 2015 Tri-State Awards Dinner Program.


The Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Award is the pinnacle of Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competitions in Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

The first- and second-place winners in the undergraduate and graduate divisions in each competition are invited Las Vegas to compete for a total cash prize pool of $118,000.

The Title Sponsor for Tri-State is the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Since 2008, the Reynolds Foundation has generously granted funding for the Tri-State cash prize pool and hotel, travel, and other competition expenses for students and judges. Since 2004, the Reynolds Foundation has annually funded the cash prize pools for the Arkansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma Governor’s Cup competitions.

The Presenting Sponsor for Tri-State is Arkansas Capital. The event is managed by the ACCG’s 501(c)(3) affiliate, the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF). AEAF works in partnership with colleagues from i2E in Oklahoma and from the Nevada Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan consortium: Truckee Meadows Community College; Sierra Nevada College; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and University of Nevada, Reno.


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