2021 Arkansas Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition

Congratulations to the 2021 Winners!

Winrock Automotive Small Business Division

Simple + Sweet Creamery
University of Arkansas
Christ Light Apparel
Central Baptist College
AR School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts
Hot Springs

Innovate Arkansas High Growth / Technology Division

Nivera Solutions
University of Arkansas
ReGen Technologies
University of Arkansas
Harding University



First place – $25,000
Second place – $15,000
Third place – $10,000
Faculty award – $2,500

First place – $15,000
Second place – $10,000
Third place – $5,000
Faculty award – $2,500


Current full- or part-time, degree-seeking Arkansas college and university students who want to explore a business idea or simply learn more about entrepreneurship are invited to compete in the 21st annual Governor’s Cup competition!

COVID will be keeping all competition events virtual, but nothing has changed in regard to the great ideas coming from Arkansas college and university students – and the Governor’s Cup is a real-world opportunity for them to explore whether or not it is viable.

Students and advisors for the top three winning teams in both divisions will share a $100,000 cash prize pool!

Teams are not required to start their businesses to compete, and the competition is free.

Overall, 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.


Beginning this year, there will be only two competition divisions: High Growth/Technology and Small Business.

This division will be for business plans with truly unique ideas and technologies that demonstrate a potentially disruptive market impact with strong viability and high potential for growth. The proposed business could be for ventures related, but not limited to, agriculture, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, transportation, energy, conservation, gaming, etc.

This division is for business plans that are more “Main Street,” customer-facing operations, such as retail operations; hospitality ventures; services such as those industries related to automotive, household, construction, beauty, travel/tourism; etc.

Eligible students of different collegiate education levels can compete in either division.

Twelve teams from each division will be selected in Round 1 to compete in Round 2, the semifinals. Six teams from each division will be selected to compete in the final round, with three teams chosen as the first-, second-, and third-place winners for both divisions. All three rounds will have a different set of judges.

The Governor’s Cup Elevator Pitch Division continues – each of the six finalist teams will choose one representative to make a :90 pitch during the awards presentation,


Arkansas Capital is responsible for management and operation of the Arkansas Governor’s Cup.

The Governor’s Cup 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. Arkansas Capital reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, guidelines, and the spirit of the competition.

Arkansas Capital 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 elements of the 2021 Governor’s Cup will be conducted virtually. Arkansas Capital will not guarantee internet quality, speed of service, and quality of connectivity at any time. Arkansas Capital will also not guarantee that video, sound clips, fonts, or other electronic aids will work and/or display at full capacity at any time.

All decisions by Arkansas Capital 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.

2. Current enrollment is defined as enrollment in a certificate- or degree-seeking program of study during the summer/fall 2020, and/or 2021 spring semesters.

3. Students who graduated with a certificate or degree during the 2020 summer/fall semesters are eligible to compete.

Team Composition, Team Leader, and Advisor/s:

4. 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

5. 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.

6. Team size is limited to a maximum of six students.

7. Students cannot compete on more than one team.

8. Teams/students cannot enter more than one business plan into the competition.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Each team must designate one student member as the team leader.

12. Each team must have at least one faculty member as its primary advisor. Outside advisors may be allowed with prior approval from Arkansas Capital.

13. Teams may have more than one advisor.

14. The team leader and the primary advisor are to be the only points of contact between the team and Governor’s Cup management throughout all phases of the competition.

15. The team leader is responsible for creating and managing the team’s application and subsequent uploads in the competition database, YouNoodle. Managing includes ensuring data entry and required uploads are correct and complete, instructions are followed, and deadlines are met. Team leaders are to add the primary advisor as an administrator to the team’s account.

16. The advisor’s role is to mentor the team leader and team members during all phases of the competition. Advisors cannot be part of team presentations.

17. The team leader and advisor are required to affirm eligibility of each team member. Affirmation will include:
a. 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,
b. 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).
Arkansas Capital has the right to request further information to determine validity of enrollment and to make determinations accordingly. Arkansas Capital’s determinations are final.

Business Idea:

18. Teams may compete with an idea that is student-generated or one that originated from another individual or entity.

a. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged if they have not been commercialized previously.

b. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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 2020-2021 academic year may be disqualified. This includes business plans that were submitted in previous Governor’s Cup competitions.

21. 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.

22. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.

Business Plan:

23. Because the Governor’s Cup is a collegiate competition, the creation and development of the business plan must be the original work of the students.

24. 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.

25. 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 these requirements. Teams submitting business plans with any plagiarized and/or fabricated information may be disqualified.


26. 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.

27. Teams are solely responsible for protection of intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc., for their concepts.

28. By entering the Governor’s Cup, teams understand their idea has been publicly disclosed. Arkansas Capital 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.

29. Teams agree that neither Arkansas Capital 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.


30. By entering the competition, students and advisors agree to allow Arkansas Capital, 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.

31. Competitors also agree that Arkansas Capital, 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 Arkansas Capital 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 Arkansas Capital, which 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 Arkansas Capital executive management is final.

For questions or assistance, please contact Marie Bruno at Arkansas Capital, phone: 501-372-9247, email: mbruno@arcapital.com


General Requirements:

Plans are 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.


I. Cover Page – provide:
• the name of the business idea;
• the name of the team leader;
• the name/s of team members; and,
• the name/s of advisors.

II. Table of Contents:

III. Executive Summary (10 points, Round 1)
• Provide a one-sentence description of the business idea’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.

IV. Problem (10 points, Round 1)
• What is the unfulfilled need / problem in the marketplace?
• Have there been prior approaches to solving this need/problem? Explain. If yes, what were their shortcomings?

V. Solution – Product / Service (10 points, Round 1)
• 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?

VI. Customers and Validation of Business Idea and Venture (10 points, Round 1)
• 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?
o If yes, explain.
o If no, how did your team pivot? What strategies were changed and why?
• What did you learn from this validation process?

VII. Go to Market Strategies (10 points, Round 1)
Addresses the research and development, production, marketing, and personnel needed to execute the idea.
• 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?

VIII. Management Team (10 points, Round 1)
• 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 idea.

IX. Revenue (5 points, Round 1)
• What are your sources of revenue?
• How do you anticipate generating enough revenue and profits to be viable?

X. Competitive Environment (5 points, Round 1)
• Who are your competitors?
• What is your idea’s competitive advantage?

XI. Critical Risks (5 points, Round 1)
• What are major internal and external risks that could threaten the idea?
• What viable contingencies does the team have to address these risks?

XII. Funds Required (5 points, Round 1)
• Provide a statement including the amount and type of capital needed, when it is needed, and how it will be used.

XIII. Pro-Forma Financials – Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement (10 points, Round 1)
• Provide monthly projections for the first year and annual projections for years two and three for each document.

XIV. Quality of Plan – (10 points, Round 1)
• The plan is well-written (concise, correct grammar / punctuation, sentence construction); instructions are followed as outlined in the plan requirements.


















Entergy Arkansas

Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc.

Little Rock Regional Chamber

Rose Law Firm

Safe Foods

The Stephens Group


Click for more details to register and pay online
Click for a fillable PDF of the Sponsor Form

Important Dates

March 18-19
Round 1 judging

March 22 – Noon
Announcement of finalists at argovernorscup.org

April 2
Round 2 Finalist Presentations

April 8 – Noon
Virtual Awards Presentation with Live Elevator Pitch competition featuring 12 finalists

First, second, and third place winners will be announced in both the High Growth/Technology and the Small Business Divisions

Presentation link for viewing will be posted at argovernorscup.org

Media Sponsor

Presented by:

Click here to see the list of previous winners and awards presentations!