It’s decade two for the Arkansas Governor’s Cup! 
Current Arkansas college and university students who want to explore a business idea or simply learn more about entrepreneurship are invited to compete in the 20th annual Governor’s Cup competition! The all-cash prize pool for 2020 is $154,000, making the Governor’s Cup one of the richest events in the national collegiate business plan competition circuit.
Teams are not required to start their businesses to compete. The Governor’s Cup is designed to increase student appreciation for the challenges that come with developing a viable business offering. Through a real-world and rigorous competitive process, the Governor’s Cup recognizes those students best able to articulate a plan that addresses these challenges. Competitors learn about the new venture creation process through their team’s efforts, their work with faculty, and the development of written plans and oral presentations to judges.
Arkansas Capital Corporation is proud to have championed 20 years of big ideas from college students in its management of the Governor’s Cup in partnership with sponsors who have invested $2.47 million into the competition since 2001. For questions, contact Arkansas Capital at 501-374-9247, or email


    • To take a chance at winning part of that $154,000 cash prize pool;
    • Get a hands-on, real-world experience about new venture creation that builds up their appreciation for the challenges that come with developing a viable business product or service;
    • Build up those important writing and presentation skills;
    • Receive impactful and meaningful feedback from notable judges;
    • Discover that Arkansas is a great place to grow, innovate, and live;
    • Network with entrepreneurs, investors and lenders;
    • Get media exposure; and,
    • Save money – there’s no cost to enter!
    • In addition to that real-world experience, the Governor’s Cup is also about personal and career development. Regardless of whether or not they were winners, past competitors say they learned quite a bit about themselves. They discovered personal strengths in problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, time management, team building, and more of the valuable soft skills critical to their success after graduation.
For colleges and universities, the Governor’s Cup is an opportunity for them to engage students in exploring promising ideas and technologies coming from their campuses for potential commercialization. Plus, their winners bring home a very cool and heavy crystal trophy that is an eye-catching addition to their trophy cases!

2020 DATES

January 6
Registration Open on YouNoodle
February 16
Business Plans Due
February 28 (end of day)
Announcement of Semi-Finalists
and Finalists (watch this page)
March 19-20
Oral Presentations
Little Rock Regional Chamber
April 9
20th Annual Awards Luncheon
Little Rock


The Governor’s Cup has two rounds:

Round 1: Team application, written business plan submitted, judging, and selection of semi-finalists and finalists.

Round 2: Semi-finalist and finalist oral presentations with business plan and PowerPoint; selection of winners.

Winners will be announced at the Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon.


January 17                                                         
Team application window opens in YouNoodle

February 18                                                              
Deadline for completed team applications, business proposal, and video uploads

February 19                                                                    
Round 1 judging begins in YouNoodle

February 27-28                  
Round 1 judges meet to select semi-finalists and finalists for Round 2

February 28                              
Round 2 semi-finalists and finalists announced at

March 12                                                                
Semi-finalist and finalist business plans and other required documents due in YouNoodle

March 13                           
Semi-finalist and finalist business plans forwarded to Round 2 judges

March 17                         
Semi-finalist and finalist backup PowerPoint presentations due to ACC

March 19                           
Undergraduate Division semi-finalist presentations, Little Rock Regional Chamber

Team Reception, announcement of Undergraduate Division finalists; The Venture Center, Little Rock

March 20
Round 2 finalist presentations, Little Rock Regional Chamber

April 9                                                                
20th Annual Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon; Wally Allen Ballroom, Statehouse Convention Center; Little Rock


    1. Arkansas Capital Corporation (ACC) is responsible for the management and operation of the Arkansas Governor’s Cup.

The competition is designed to increase college and university student appreciation for the challenges associated with developing a viable business offering (product or service) while, through an iterative process, recognizing those students best able to articulate a plan that addresses these challenges.

Not every circumstance can be anticipated during the course of the competition. ACC reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules and guidelines of the competition.

ACC also reserves the right to disqualify teams that engage in illegal, unethical, harmful, or any other behavior and activities it deems as unworthy of association with the Governor’s Cup.

All decisions made by ACC are final.


    1. The Arkansas Governor’s Cup is open to any full- or part-time, certificate- or degree-seeking student currently enrolled at any of Arkansas’s accredited not-for-profit two- or four-year public, private, or independent colleges and universities.
    1. Current enrollment is defined as enrollment in a certificate- or degree-seeking program of study during the summer/fall 2019, and/or 2020 spring semesters.
    1. If one team member is/was enrolled in a graduate or post-graduate degree program during these semesters, the team must compete in the graduate division.
    1. Students who graduated with a certificate or degree during the 2019 summer/fall semesters are eligible to compete.
    1. If one team member earned a graduate or post-graduate degree during these semesters, the team must compete in the graduate division.

Team Composition, Team Leader, and Advisor/s:                                                                                       

    1. Teams may be composed of
      • graduate and undergraduate students;
      • students from any academic discipline – agriculture, business, education, engineering, health, science, tourism, etc.; team members may represent a mix of these disciplines;
      • students from more than one college and/or university.
    1. Teams may include non-student members. However, these individuals cannot make up the majority of the team and cannot take part in any team presentations.
    1. Team size is limited to a maximum of six students.
    1. Students cannot compete on more than one team.
    1. Teams cannot enter more than one business plan into the competition.
    1. Students must have majority ownership of the business venture and serve in “C-Level” roles on the management team (i.e., CEO, COO, CFO, CPO, etc.). The management team outlined in the plan must include the names of individuals (if any) who are not associated with the college or university.
    1. The student management team and other individuals (if applicable) must own at least 30 percent of the total equity in the business venture, if allocated.
    1. Each team must designate one student member as the team leader.
    1. Each team must have at least one faculty member as its advisor. Outside advisors may be allowed with prior approval from ACC.
    1. Teams may have two advisors.
    1. The team leader and one advisor are to be the only points of contact between the team and Governor’s Cup management throughout all phases of the competition.
    1. The team leader is responsible for creating and managing the team’s application and subsequent uploads in the competition database. Managing includes ensuring data entry and required uploads are correct and complete, instructions are followed, and deadlines are met.
    1. The advisor’s role is to mentor the team leader and team members during all phases of the competition. Advisors cannot be part of the team video or presentations.
    1. The team leader and advisor are required to affirm eligibility of each team member. Affirmation will include:
      • verification in the application that team members are full- or part-time students currently enrolled in a certificate- or degree-seeking program of study during the eligible semesters; and,
      • verification in the application of each team member’s level of completion as of the business plan submission date (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, recently graduated, graduate or post-graduate student).

ACC has the right to request further information to determine validity of enrollment and to make determinations accordingly.

ACC’s determinations are final.

Business Idea:                                                                                                                           

    1. The business idea must be for a new and independent venture in the seed, start-up, or early-growth stages.
    1. Teams may compete with an idea that is student-generated or one that originated from another individual or entity. Teams may also compete with an idea based on a technology, product, or service that has been licensed from another company, private inventor, or other source.

Teams must provide written and signed approval from these individuals or entities on professional letterhead. Teams will be required to upload this document with their business plan in Round 1.

    1. Ventures that include proposals for buy-outs and/or expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution outside of Arkansas, spin-outs from existing corporations, and other consulting projects or analyses are not eligible.
    1. 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 2019-2020 academic year may be disqualified. This includes business plans that were submitted in previous Governor’s Cup competitions.
    1. 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.
    1. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
    1. The work of the team may be under faculty supervision for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. Their work may also be prepared under faculty supervision with no official credit.
    1. 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.

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 business plan.

By submitting a plan into the competition, the team automatically affirms this requirement. Teams submitting business plans with any plagiarized and/or fabricated information may be disqualified.


    1. 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.
    1. Teams are solely responsible for protection of intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc., for their concepts.
    1. By entering the Governor’s Cup, teams understand their idea has been publicly disclosed. ACC will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff, audience members, or any other individuals involved with the Governor’s Cup to agree to sign non-disclosure or confidentiality statements.
    1. Teams agree that neither ACC and its affiliates, nor members of the judging panels, nor sponsors and their designated organizations, assume any liability for any disclosures of any information related to their submissions; 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 during the course of the competition.


    1. Governor’s Cup competitors agree to allow ACC, its affiliates, and 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.
    1. Competitors also agree that ACC, its affiliates, and other designated organizations may use videos, photos, transcripts, and/or recording(s) (in whole or part) for publicity and marketing purposes as their organizations may see fit, including those which may result in remuneration.

Rules Violations                                                                                                                           

For matters related to possible rules violations, inquiries must be submitted in writing to ACC and must include:

    • the name of the team alleging the violation,
    • the name/s of the team/s allegedly committing the violation,
    • the rule/s purported to have been violated,
    • supporting evidence that the rule/s have been violated.

Inquiries will be forwarded to the executive management team of ACC. ACC management will determine if rules have been violated, as well as if and how a team and/or team member/s should be penalized or disqualified. The decision of ACC management is final.

Questions / Assistance:                                                                                                                           
Please contact Marie Bruno at Arkansas Capital Corporation. Phone: 501-374-9247; email:



The business plan is limited to a maximum of 12 pages plus a maximum of 6 pages for appendices.

A Cover Page and Table of Contents are required and do not count toward the business plan page limit.

Plans with fewer than 6 pages of appendices may not use the extra pages to increase the length of their business plan beyond the 12-page limit.

Appendices may be used to support findings noted in the plan and for more details on financials.


    • The font must be Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman. This requirement does not apply to text for the Cover Page or to headings or descriptions in the plan that accompany pictures, graphics, or worksheets.
    • The font must be 12 point.
    • Page margins must be one inch on all sides.
    • Line spacing must be 1.5.
    • Pages must be numbered.


  1. Cover Page – provide:
    • the name of the business venture;
    • the name of the team leader;
    • the name/s of team members; and,
    • the name/s of advisors.
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Executive Summary
    • Provide a one-sentence description of the venture’s product or service.
    • Summarize why your product or service will be better than what currently exists in the marketplace, specifying key benefits and target markets.
    • Conclude with a general summary of your company’s goals for the next three years.
  4. Problem
    • What is the need / problem in the marketplace?
    • Have there been prior approaches to solving this need/problem? Explain. If yes, what were their shortcomings?
  5. Solution – Product / Service
    • Describe the product or service that is your solution.
    • What are the key features and benefits?
    • What is its current stage of development?
    • What is the unique value proposition for the customer?
  6. Customers and Validation of Venture
    • Who are your customers? Give specifics re: demographics, income levels, etc.
    • What assumptions were made leading the team to conclude there is market acceptance for your product or service and that you will generate revenue?
    • What activities (interviews, surveys, presentations, prototyping, tests, etc.) did your team conduct with potential customers to validate these assumptions?
    • Were your assumptions on target based on the results and feedback from these activities?
      • If yes, explain.
      • If no, how did your team pivot? What strategies were changed and why?
    • What did you learn from this validation process?
  7. Go to Market Strategies
    • Addresses the research and development, production, marketing, and personnel needed to execute the venture.
    • How will you make and/or deliver the product or service?
    • How will you promote and market your product or service?
    • Who will be your key partners?
  8. Management Team
    • List the student team members who will hold the “C-Suite” positions in the company and provide a brief background on each.
    • Explain why this team is the right team to execute the venture.
  9. Revenue
    • What are your sources of revenue?
    • How do you anticipate generating enough revenue and profits to create a sustainable and scalable venture?
  10. Competitive Environment
    • Who are your competitors?
    • What is your venture’s competitive advantage?
  11. Critical Risks
    • What are major internal and external risks that could threaten the venture?
    • What viable contingencies does the team have to address these risks?
  12. Funds Required
    • Provide a statement including the amount and type of capital needed, when it is needed, and how it will be used.
  13. Pro-Forma Financials – Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement:
    • Provide monthly projections for the first year and annual projections for years two and three for each document.


Team applications and Round 1 judging of the Governor’s Cup are conducted electronically through YouNoodle.

As stated in Rule 18, only the team leader can create and manage the team’s YouNoodle account and application. Rule 18 also requires team leaders to provide account access to one team advisor.

YouNoodle is a third party website. Team leaders should read its Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. When using YouNoodle, teams are agreeing to YouNoodle’s terms.

Team leaders: Please ensure the email account/address you use to set up this account will accept emails from or from any other address. YouNoodle auto-generates emails regarding the status of your activity in your account each time you make an update.

Creating the team’s account:

Go to: bookmark this link. Because the Governor’s Cup is exclusive to Arkansas college and university students, this exact link is the only path to account setup and application management.

At this page, follow the prompts to create the account. When done, click “Save,” then click “Next.”

You’ll be taken to the next window, “Team Management.” This is where you will add your advisor as the other administrator for the team account. Please ensure his/her email account will also accept emails from any address.

In the team “Team Management” window, follow the prompts to invite the advisor. Once done:

  • The advisor will receive an email from YouNoodle with the invitation to join the team’s account.
  • He/she needs to open the email and click on the provided link to “Create an Account” in YouNoodle.
  • The next window will have a yellow flag “1” in “Notifications” under “Dashboard” in the left hand panel on the screen. In the body of the screen, he/she will see a message and an “Accept” button.
  • Once accepted, he/she will be taken to the team’s application page and will have access to all information.
  • The advisor must accept the invitation to the account before the team’s application can be submitted, even if it’s still incomplete.

Team application:

After setting up the team account, you’ll be directed to a new window with a box titled, “Create A New Application”.

Click and begin filling out the form as prompted, starting with the team’s business name.

Virtually all data fields in the application are tagged as required answers. At the time you start the application, if you have incomplete or unknown information, it’s ok to leave those fields blank. You will be able to update your application all the way up to the business plan submission deadline.

Click “Submit Application” when finished to save your data.

All applications are considered incomplete until the business plan is uploaded. You can access your team’s application anytime via the custom 2020 YouNoodle link. Click on “Dashboard.” In the next window, you’ll see a large button to click to get into the team application.

Once in, look for the “Edit” button on the right and click to make changes. Depending on where you are in the application, you may have to click “Unsubmit Application” to make edits – this is fine.

When you are finished with edits, click “Submit Application.”

Each time you update your application and submit it, you will receive an email message from YouNoodle regarding your application status.

All team information in the application must be complete and current at the time the business plan is uploaded (deadline 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 16).












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.