John Brown University Teams Dominate 2011 Governor's Cup

by Mark Carter  on Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2011 2:39 pm  

Students from John Brown University in Siloam Springs won four of six top prizes Wednesday at the 11th annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup college business plan competition.

JBU swept the top three spots in the overall undergraduate division and took third place overall in the graduate division. JBU is a private, Christian university in Siloam Springs with roughly 2,100 students.

Teams from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, won first and second place in the graduate division.

Agricultural Food Systems, the JBU team that developed a business plan around technology that measures tenderness in raw meat carcasses on production lines, won every award for which it competed, including the undergraduate agriculture award, the undergrad innovation award, the undergrad elevator pitch competition and the top spot overall.

The top three overall winning teams in each division were:


  1. Agriculture Food Systems, JBU
  2. Craftistas, JBU (direct sales craft kits)
  3. GardenCraft, JBU (do-it-yourself hypertufa)
  1. cycleWood Solutions, UA (biodegradable plastic bag)
  2. TiFiber, UA (innovative industrial filtration)
  3. Peas and Cues, JBU (foreign language cirriculum)

The awards luncheon was held at the Statehouse Convention Center in front of about 1,000 people, including Gov. Mike Beebe.

Other winners included:

  • cycleWood, graduate elevator pitch winner and graduate agriculture winner
  • Jeska Shoe Co., Southern Arkansas University, graduate innovation (interchangable heels for women's shoes)

The top winners in each division take home cash prizes of $20,000. Second place overall winners receive $10,000, and third place winners get $5,000. In addition, innovation and agriculture award winners take home $5,000 each.

The top two teams in each division will advance to the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Governor's Cup, pitting the top teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nevada, to be held in Las Vegas in May.

Kirk Dennison led the Agriculture Food Systems team, which developed its plan around UA technology. The 21-year-old from Fairfax, Virginia, delivered the team's winning elevator pitch, in which team members have 90 seconds to pitch before the luncheon audience. The pitch winners were determined by audience members who texted their favorites to a predetermined code, thanks to Innovate Arkansas firm Sumotext.

Dennison said his startup is looking for an initial investment of $200,000, and told his firm has received nibbles from interested investors since presenting before the competition's panel of judges last week.



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