By Scott Meacham
When the world is running along in normal ways at normal speeds, we tend not to think as much about connections between disconnected things.
For me lately, in the third quarter of this pandemic, as we approach the holidays and the end of the year, I have been reflecting more and more about how seemingly unconnected aspects of our lives, our communities, and even our world are connected in unexpected and enduring ways.
So here’s a question. How are the Salvation Army, a long-time favorite children’s Bible song, and the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup connected?
Decades ago, Sidney Cox was a major in the Salvation Army who wrote more than 400 hymns. His most famous is the Sunday School song “Deep and Wide.” Borrowing from the lyrics of that unforgettable song, deep and wide perfectly describes the unique impact of the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup collegiate business plan competition on entrepreneurship and innovation across Oklahoma.
Annually, this unique, competition introduces hundreds of college and university students to real-world entrepreneurship. The experience builds their business skills and helps them develop the confidence to present new ideas for all sorts of businesses, from devices that monitor white blood cell count to a new brand of relaxing chewing gum.
When we started up the business plan competition about seventeen years ago, there were few college and university entrepreneurship programs or degrees. Oklahoma’s universities were heading in that direction, and through this competition, i2E and the state’s business schools and professors worked together to speed the progress. Together, we developed new curriculum for entrepreneurship and timed new classes around the competition. While there have always been significant cash awards to the winners of the business plan competition, the core purpose has always been education.
Today, those schools educate and graduate hundreds of degreed entrepreneurs every single year. We have expanded the competition to non-research schools and invited students with any basic business concept to participate. Without question, working directly with a new school to enhance their entrepreneurship program and have their students compete is one of the highlights of the year for us.
Some Love’s Cup teams turn their business plans into startup companies. Others carry entrepreneurial mindsets into the corporate world or family businesses. Either way, the impact of the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup is truly “Deep and Wide.”
If you or your organization are a previous Love’s Cup sponsor, we thank you and encourage you to consider re-upping on your participation for 2021. If you have not participated before, join us now.
What is more powerful than creating talent and creating jobs by equipping our college and university students with entrepreneurial skills that can have an immediate and lasting impact on the economy of Oklahoma.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.