Oklahoma is gearing up for the ninth year of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition.
The official 2013 kickoff will be in February, but the pre-Governor’s Cup warm-up began in October with the Who Wants to Be an Entrepreneur? workshop. This year, more than 250 interested students from campuses statewide registered.
This diagram from The Entrepreneur’s Path, i2E’s handbook for high-growth companies, is one of the workshop tools we use.
This pictorial “to do list” for the entrepreneur begins at proof-of-concept, and charts the capital path of taking an entrepreneurial business from proof-of-concept to growth.
But there’s an enormous part of the entrepreneurial path that precedes this chart.
As Brad Feld, nationally recognized early stage investor and entrepreneur, said when he was here to keynote InnoTech Oklahoma, if you want an entrepreneurial ecosystem, you have to have lots of entrepreneurs.
That’s the whole point of the Governor’s Cup.
We often write about the importance of access to risk capital is to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
There’s no doubt that the rate of commercialization of new technologies and innovative ideas could grind to a halt in Oklahoma without funding from capital sources managed by i2E – proof of concept funding from the Technology Business Finance Program, early state investment from the SeedStep Angels and the portfolio of the Accelerate Oklahoma! fund.
But the real driver of Oklahoma’s innovation economy is the community of entrepreneurs — creative risk takers with great ideas and revenue-producing business models. We need more entrepreneurs in our state because more entrepreneurs drive more deals.
There are more than 1,000 students and graduates who are Governor’s Cup alums. They’ve competed from more than two dozen colleges and university from across Oklahoma. They earned more than $1 million in cash prizes, $85,000 in fellowships, and $40,000 in scholarships.
Through the Governor’s Cup, they gain first-hand experience with entrepreneurship. Many of them come away bitten by the bug.
More than 10 companies were either started or assisted as a result of the Governor’s Cup.
Whether Governor’s Cup participants start companies or take what they’ve learned about building job-creating innovation into established businesses, Oklahoma gains.