The eight winners of the 2021 Arkansas Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan competition were announced during a virtual presentation held at noon Thursday.
They will take home $100,000 in all-cash awards, contributed by title sponsor Dhu Thompson and Revolution Bag of Little Rock. Other major sponsors include the Walton Family Foundation, Innovate Arkansas and Winrock Automotive.
The winners are:
Small Business Division
Simple + Sweet Creamery from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (First place; $15,000);
Christ Light Apparel from Central Baptist College in Conway (Second place; $10,000); and
Apollo from the Arkansas School for Math, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs (Third place; $5,000).
Innovate Arkansas High Growth/Technology Division
Nivera Solutions from the UA (First place; $25,000);
ReGen Technologies from the UA (Second place; $15,000); and
Balance Mark from Harding University in Searcy (Third place; $10,000).
Faculty advisers for the winning teams will each receive a $2,500 cash award.
In addition, Thursday’s event included a pitch competition that the 12 finalists for the awards participated in. The winners of that were Small Talks from the ASMSA and GreenGreens from the UA. They received $2,000 apiece.
The competition, which has been managed by Arkansas Capital Corp. of Little Rock since its inception in 2001, does not require teams to launch their businesses. Instead, they are “rewarded for the rigorous and real-world experience they gain as competitors,” the firm said.
"Many, probably even most, business plan competitions around the country measure their success in terms of the number of successful businesses that emerge from their competitions,” Rush Deacon, CEO of Arkansas Capital Corp., said in the release. "While we love to hear those stories linked to the Governor's Cup, we instead count as the measure of our success the impact the competition has had on entrepreneurial education in Arkansas's colleges and universities.”