$114,000 Cash for Winners to be Awarded April 7
Little Rock, Ark. – Startup ideas from 14 finalist teams, representing 7 Arkansas colleges and universities, will be showcased live followed by the announcement of the winners of Arkansas Capital’s 23rd annual Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition Awards Luncheon; Friday, April 7, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Fayetteville Public Library Event Center.
One student from each finalist team will take the stage at the luncheon to make a live, 90-second pitch summarizing their team’s idea. Audience members will have the chance to vote via their mobile devices for the best pitch in each of the three competition tracks, followed by the announcement of these winners and the overall competition winners.
The finalists are:
Winrock Automotive Small Business Division:
Covered by Grace – Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia
EzB – Central Baptist College, Conway
Good Fills Refillery – Lyon College, Batesville
Waderbuddy – Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia
High-Growth / Technology Division – Undergraduate Track:
AdCharta – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
BusyBees – Lyon College, Batesville
CarpeDerm – Harding University, Searcy and University of Central Arkansas, Conway
MicroCures – Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia
The SoLo – Harding University, Searcy
Innovate Arkansas High-Growth / Technology Division – Graduate Track:
Agri-Guard – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Care-Mate Technologies – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Partnr – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Pediatrica Therapeutics – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
U.N.C.L. Company – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Vitruvian Matrix – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Dhu Thompson of Little Rock is the title sponsor of the competition. The $114,000 cash prize pool includes $20,000 to the winners of both the graduate and undergraduate tracks of the High-Growth / Technology Division. Second place winners in these tracks will each receive $10,000; and $7,500 will be awarded to both third-place winners. A cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the winner of the Small Business Division, with the second- and third-place teams winning $7,500 and $5,000, respectively. The winners of each track’s elevator pitch competition will receive a $1,000 cash prize. All faculty advisors for all winning teams will each receive a $1,500 cash award. Crystal trophies will also be presented to student and faculty winners for display at their college or university.
Sixteen volunteer judges evaluated each business plan in Round 1 of the competition, and selected teams as finalists to advance to Round 2. Fifteen new volunteer judges convened to hear oral presentations from all finalists to decide the winners.
The luncheon will be emceed for the eighth year by Mike and Anne Preston. Mike Preston is the managing director and head of the Site & Incentive Group for Stephens, Inc. in Little Rock. Anne Preston is a broadcast journalist and a Little Rock-based news anchor for several local television stations across the country.
Arkansas Capital CEO Sam Walls said the company launched the Governor’s Cup in 2001 to address what it saw as a need for real-world entrepreneur education, but targeted to the state’s future entrepreneurs. “Everything we do here at Arkansas Capital is geared toward empowering entrepreneurs and strengthening communities. We wanted to provide our state’s colleges and universities with a highly-incentivized opportunity to teach their students to think entrepreneurially and encourage them to look at entrepreneurship as a career path,” he said.
Walls added that, unlike many collegiate business competitions around the country, the Governor’s Cup does not require student teams to launch their startups, but instead rewards them for the rigorous and real-world experience they gain as competitors. “Although there are several existing companies with roots in the Governor’s Cup, many past competitors tell us they have been positively impacted both personally and professionally beyond college because they applied the grassroots knowledge they gained from this experience,” he said.
Since the first competition in 2001, 3,165 college and university students have competed, submitting 977 business ideas. For 2023, 78 students comprising 23 teams from nine Arkansas universities entered the competition.
As of this year, the competition has awarded a total of $2.81 million to winners.