Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition

Arkansas Capital is excited to announce that Delta Plastics of Little Rock is once again the title sponsor of the Arkansas Governor’s Cup, giving college and university students the chance to join more than 2,650 others who have experienced this exciting competition!

Since 2001, the Arkansas Capital Corporation Group, through its 501(c)(3) Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF), has challenged college students to bring entrepreneurial ideas and talents to life through the Arkansas Governor’s Cup. The $154,000 ALL CASH prize pool generously provided by Delta Plastics makes this competition one of the most prestigious in the country.

The Governor’s Cup was created to:

  • promote and support college students who want to explore entrepreneurial endeavors and new venture creation while still in school;
  • encourage commercialization of promising ideas emerging from Arkansas colleges and universities;
  • build bridges between these students and their schools and Arkansas’s entrepreneurial community; and,
  • become one of the premier business plan competitions in the United States. (And it has!)

The Governor’s Cup competition experience is real-world preparation for Arkansas college students who wants to be ready to seize opportunities for entrepreneurship that may come along for them either while in college or into their careers. See “What You’ll Need to Know” for all the 2019 Governor’s Cup details. For questions regarding any aspects of the competition and sponsor opportunities, please contact Arkansas Capital at 501-374-9247, or email

The Governor’s Cup is not possible without sponsors. Click here for the sponsor levels available in 2019.

Donations of any amount for the Governor’s Cup are welcome year-round!

Because of sponsors and donors, it costs Arkansas college students nothing to enter the Governor’s Cup!

Sponsorships and donations are terrific ways to encourage and support our collegiate entrepreneurial talent!



  1. Not every circumstance can be anticipated. The Arkansas Capital Corporation reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, the regulations, or the spirit of the competition. For questions, please contact Marie Bruno at Arkansas Capital (phone 501-374-9247).
  2. The Governor’s Cup is open to all faculty- or mentor-sponsored, full- or 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.
  3. Eligible students from any program of study on campus — agriculture, business, education, engineering, health, science, tourism, etc. — are encouraged to compete. Teams can be composed of students from a mix of disciplines. Teams can also include students from more than one college and/or university.
  4. Enrollment is defined as classes taken during the 2018 summer session(s), 2018 fall semester, or the 2019 spring semester. Students who have graduated prior to the competition and were enrolled in a degree- or certificate-seeking program are eligible to compete.
  5. Teams with any one member enrolled in graduate school during one of the eligible semesters must compete in the graduate competition.
  6. Students may compete individually or as a team. The maximum team size is six members.
  7. Each team is required to have at least one faculty or non-faculty member as its adviser. Non-faculty member advisers must have prior approval to serve in that role before business plans are submitted. Please notify Marie Bruno (contact information noted in Rule 1).
  8. Arkansas Capital relies on students and advisers to verify enrollment criteria. Arkansas Capital reserves the exclusive right to determine the validity of enrollment.
  9. The business plan may be prepared under faculty supervision for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. The plan may also be prepared under faculty supervision with no official credit.
  10. Arkansas Capital manages the Governor’s Cup competition online. The online platform for the 2019 competition is changing. Please monitor “Competition Registration Instructions” for updates.
  11. Each team must submit an “Intent to Compete” through the online database by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 10, whether it intends to enter a business plan or is still undecided. See “Submitting Intents to Compete” for more information and instructions.
  12. 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. If only one teams enters a track, there will be no competition in that track.
  13. Teams cannot submit more than one business plan into the competition.
  14. 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 management team (i.e., CEO, COO, VP, etc.). Non-student members of the venture’s management team may not participate in any competition presentations.
  15. 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 2018-2019 academic year will be disqualified. This includes business plans that were submitted in previous Governor’s Cup competitions.
  16. 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.
  17. Teams may submit plans based on a technology, product, or service that has been licensed from another company, private inventor, or university with their written approval. In these cases, teams will be required to verify they have written approval upon upload/submission of their business plans.
  18. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
  19. 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.
  20. The business plan must represent the original work of team members. For example: If a team builds a business plan upon an idea from an outside person or entity, the team cannot take material or information (such as market and competitive analysis, financials, operating strategies, etc.) from that person or entity for use in their Governor’s Cup business plan. By submitting a plan into the competition, the team automatically affirms this requirement. Any team submitting a plagiarized business plan will be disqualified.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Due to the nature of the competition, Arkansas Capital Corporation 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 Arkansas Capital Corporation and its affiliates; nor members of the judging panels; nor sponsors and 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.
  24. Plans are limited to a maximum of 20 pages, including the Executive Summary and excluding the Cover Page, Table of Contents, and Appendices. Pages beyond this limit will be omitted from judging. Appendices should be included only when they support the findings, statements, and observations in the plan.
  25. 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.
  26. Business plans must be uploaded by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 24.
  27. By participating in the Governor’s Cup, competitors agree to allow Arkansas Capital Corporation and/or its affiliates and/or other designated organizations, 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.
  28. Competitors also agree that Arkansas Capital Corporation and/or its affiliates and/or other designated 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.


As noted in the competition rules, the online platform for registration and business plan submission is changing for 2019. Please watch this space throughout the fall semester for updates and instructions.


  1. Business plans must be uploaded as PDFs and cannot exceed 10 MB in size.
  2. Please ensure the name of the plan document is the same as the team name.
  3. If plans include graphs, charts, and other elements, please ensure they fit properly into the plan document. Once uploaded, a team member or the advisor should download and review the file to ensure all contents downloaded properly and no pages are missing.
  4. Plans are limited to a maximum of 20 pages, including the Executive Summary. The Cover Page and Table of Contents are not counted in the page limit.
  5. Appendices are not counted as part of the page limit and should be included only when they support the findings, statements, and observations in the plan.
  6. Plans must be typed in Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman with a 10- or 12-point font size.
  7. Page margins must be 1 inch. Spacing between lines in a paragraph and between paragraphs must be 1.5 or double-spaced. NOTE: Font spacing, paragraph, and line spacing requirements apply to the textual content of the plan and not to titles and descriptions that accompany pictures, graphs, tables, or worksheets.
  8. Please ensure pages are numbered.
  9. Plans should be reviewed carefully for formatting, spelling, and grammar errors before they are uploaded. They are assigned directly to judges electronically without preview from staff. Don’t jeopardize your team’s chances with a negative first impression … get someone with new eyes to proofread your plan and make sure all text, charts, graphs, photos, etc. convert properly to the required PDF document!


  • Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary (10 Points): Clear, exciting, and effective as a stand-alone overview of the plan; includes brief description of each succeeding section of the plan; can be read in less than five minutes.
  • Company Overview (5 Points): Presents a vision, history, current status, strategy, goals, mission, and objectives for the business.
  • Products or Services (10 Points): Describes the key features and benefits, current stage of development, proprietary position, and competitive advantages of the product or service.
  • Market and Competitive Analysis (10 Points): Presents the growth trends and key driving forces of the industry; identifies the key characteristics and needs of the target market(s); assesses the competitive environment; demonstrates market acceptance for the product or service.
  • Management Team (5 Points): Backgrounds and roles of key individuals; history and ability to work as an effective team; personnel needs; organizational structure.
  • Operating Strategies (10 Points): Addresses the marketing, production, research and development, personnel, administrative, and financial strategies for the proposed firm.
  • Critical Risks (10 Points): Realistically identifies the major internal and external critical risks that could threaten the business and presents viable contingency plans to address these issues.
  • Cash Flow Statement (10 Points): Presents a realistic assessment of cash requirements – inflows and outflows; cash flow statement is consistent with operating and marketing strategies outlined in the body of the plan; cash flow statement information is projected annually for years 1-5.
  • Income Statement (10 Points): Demonstrates realistic and attractive income potential of the business; the income statement is consistent with the operating and marketing strategies outlined in the body of the plan; income statement information is projected annually for years 1-5.
  • Balance Sheet (10 Points): Presents a realistic assessment of the working capital and fixed asset requirements of the business; appropriately reflects the projected capital structure of the business (long-term debt and equity positions); balance sheet information is projected annually for years 1-5.
  • Funds Required/Used (5 Points): Clear and concise presentation of amount, timing, type, and use of funds required for venture.
  • Offering (5 Points): Clearly articulates the proposal/terms to investors; identifies what is being sought from investors; states how much equity will be given up in return for investment capital; presents a realistic assessment of ROI potential; presents an appropriate deal structure and possible exit scenarios.

Semi-Finalist and Finalist Teams advancing to Oral Presentations will be announced at Monday, March 11, at noon.

Good luck!


  1. The Oral Presentation Rounds of the competition will be March 28 and 29 at the Little Rock Regional Chamber, 200 E. Markham St. Twelve Undergraduate Division semi-finalists, the Agriculture Division finalists, and six Innovation Division finalists will present Thursday, March 28. Six Undergraduate Division finalists will be announced Thursday evening. The Undergraduate Division and Graduate Division finalists will present Friday, March 29. Winners will be announced at the Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon, Thursday, April 11.
  2. Before oral presentations, teams will have the opportunity to modify and submit their business plans based on feedback received from judges in the preliminary round. The deadline to re-submit business plans is 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 17.
  3. Backup PowerPoints for Oral Presentations are due from teams by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 26. NOTE: Teams may update their PowerPoint presentations at any time up to their presentation. These PowerPoints will be available as a backup if there are issues.
  4. Completed and signed W9 (or W-8BEN) tax forms, and completed and signed media releases must also be uploaded by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 26.  Pictures of forms from mobile devices will not be accepted.
  5. All oral presentations 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 Arkansas Capital Corporation (or its designated organizations), or judges, or sponsors 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.
  6. Oral presentations will not be recorded. Teams may bring their own equipment to record presentations. Please set up away from the front two-thirds of the presentation room.
  7. Once a team begins its presentation, no one is allowed to enter or leave the room until the end of the presentation.
  8. Team members are not allowed to bring food or beverages into the rooms during their presentation.
  9. 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.
  10. Neither team members nor faculty advisors can observe other teams’ oral presentations until after they have finished their presentation.
  11. Students, advisers, 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.

Below are links to previous presentations:

Apex (undergraduate) –
Actio Systems (graduate) –
Drone Surveying Solutions (undergraduate) –
Short Bow (undergraduate) –
AgCorp (undergraduate) –
Vivimmune (graduate) –


A highlight of the Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon is the Elevator Pitch Competition, where one representative from each of the undergraduate and graduate finalist teams has 90 seconds to pitch his or her team’s business plan to the audience.

The Elevator Pitch Competition is a challenging opportunity for students to shape a statement about their business plan into one that is concise, attention-getting, and can be shared when an unexpected opportunity arises to, literally, “make a pitch.” They could find themselves on the same elevator with a well-known investor and have a 90-second ride together. What do they say?

During the luncheon, competitors will meet Arkansas Capital staff in a pre-designated area to be fitted with wireless microphones, allowing them to move freely during their pitches. When the competition begins, the emcee will call the first competitor to the stage. A time clock is provided and a cue will be given to start the pitch. At 90 seconds, a buzzer will sound, and the competitor leaves the stage. The audience is then prompted to rate the pitch by text vote. Votes are tallied and an undergraduate and graduate winner is announced before the end of the luncheon. Each winner receives a $2,000 cash prize.

See the 2018 Elevator Pitch finalists in action!  Fast-forward to 15:50 and have fun!

As pitches are being prepared, teams should consider the following for content:

  1. Who are you? Introduce yourself, giving your name, your title/role in the company, and the company’s name.
  2. What need is your company’s product or service addressing?
  3. Who is your target audience?
  4. Who is your market? How will you acquire these customers?
  5. Business model — how do you expect to make money? Do you sell the product to wholesalers for a flat fee? Do you charge a subscription? Do you split profits with a partner?
  6. Management team — who is behind the company? “Bet on the jockey, not the horse” is a familiar saying among Investors. Share a little about you and your team’s background and achievements. If you have a strong advisory board, say who they are and what they have accomplished.
  7. Who are your competitors? Briefly discuss who they are and what they have accomplished. Successful competition is an advantage — it is proof your business model and/or concept work.
  8. What gives your company the edge? Simply being in an industry with successful competitors is not enough. You need to effectively communicate how your company is different and why you have an advantage over the competition. Do you have a better distribution channel? Key partners? Proprietary technology?
  9. What are you seeking? What are you looking for from the investor? How much money do you need and what it will let you do?

Practice is key. Competitors need to get the pitches down in 90 seconds or less — and make sense while doing so. They should practice extensively with other team members and also try their pitches on others,

Good luck!


Learn more about how the Governor’s Cup came to be and the amazing impact it has had on entrepreneurship.


Discover how one of the largest ALL CASH prize pools in the United States is distributed by category and winner.


View the names and business ideas of teams that have previously left the Governor’s Cup victorious.