Finalists announced for 2022 Arkansas Governor’s Cup competition; awards luncheon in NWA

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,112 views 

Little Rock-based nonprofit Arkansas Capital Corp. announced Monday (March 7) the 12 finalists for its annual Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

Six teams, three in the High-Growth/Technology Division and three in the Small Business Division, will share a $100,000 cash prize pool. The prize money is contributed for the fifth straight year by Dhu Thompson, former owner and former chairman of Delta Plastics and Revolution Bag in Little Rock.

The 22nd annual awards luncheon is on March 31 at 11:30 a.m. at the Embassy Suites in Rogers. It will be the first time the awards luncheon will be held in Northwest Arkansas. Arkansas Capital Corp. has managed the Governor’s Cup since the first competition in 2001.

“Northwest Arkansas has done an amazing job developing their entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we are excited to showcase our competition finalists in this dynamic environment,” Sam Walls III, CEO of Arkansas Capital Corp., said in a statement.

The six finalists in each division are:

Winrock Automotive Small Business Division:

  • R. Lawn; Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
  • Ascend; John Brown University, Siloam Springs
  • Bento; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Kopi Koffee Company; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Limitless Fitness; Central Baptist College, Conway; Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia
  • Orange Otter Toys; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

High-Growth/Technology Division:

  • CiphrX Biotechnologies; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • GammaVet; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Horizon Health Solutions; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Shock; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • Suelo; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • VEZA Solutions; John Brown University, Fayetteville

According to the release, one representative from each team will take the stage at the luncheon to make a 90-second pitch on their team’s business idea. They will make the case as to why the product or service is needed in the marketplace and that it will be profitable.

The $100,000 cash prize pool includes $25,000 to the High-Growth/Technology Division winner. The second-place team will win $15,000, and the third-place team will win $10,000. The first-place winner of the Small Business Division wins $15,000. The second-place team will be awarded $10,000, and the third-place winner will be awarded $5,000.

The division winners of the elevator pitches will each receive $2,000. Faculty advisors for the finalist teams will each receive a $2,500 cash award.

Walls III noted that, unlike many competitions around the country, the Governor’s Cup does not require student teams to launch their businesses.

“Instead, they are rewarded for the rigorous and real-world experience they gain as competitors,” he said. “Testimonials from past competitors show the Governor’s Cup has made a significant and positive impact in their professional development and in their careers beyond college.

“For 65 years, everything we do at Arkansas Capital has been geared toward empowering entrepreneurs and strengthening communities. The reason we started the Governor’s Cup over 20 years ago was to provide our state’s colleges and universities a highly-incentivized opportunity to teach their students to think entrepreneurially and encourage them to look at entrepreneurship as a career path.”

According to the news release, since the first competition in 2001, nearly 3,100 Arkansas college students have been impacted, submitting 949 business ideas. For 2022, 31 teams of 157 students from ten Arkansas universities competed, the highest number of students since 2015.