By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2013, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
The 2013 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup statewide collegiate business plan competition concluded this month with $154,000 in cash awards paid to winning college students. In the competition, hundreds of Oklahoma students learned firsthand about the financial payoff that successful entrepreneurship can bring.
The Governor’s Cup is all about finding students with entrepreneurial talent and helping them hone their skills and consider entrepreneurship as a career option when they school.
In 2013, the competition added the Small Business Division, which is open to students from any two-year college, or regional or nonresearch private university. Teams write business plans around any business concept as long as it has a unique or innovative component.
Over the first eight years of the Governor’s Cup, the competition was open to students from any Oklahoma college or university, although the emphasis was on high-growth concepts.
The idea of the new Small Business Division is to encourage students to write business plans for businesses that they can and would want to start now. Economic development leaders and bankers from different parts of Oklahoma — the very people that these students will need to know if they do start businesses — judged this division.
Another Governor’s Cup innovation is the interview segment of the High Growth Division. i2E brings in industry experts from across the country to sit down one-on-one with each High Growth Division team and help them with their business concept. Where else can college students have the opportunity to receive this kind of perspective from nationally recognized individuals and investors?
Oklahoma needs all kinds of businesses. We need advanced technology firms that create hundreds of jobs. We also need the five-, 10- and 20-person local and regional businesses. We need entrepreneurial-minded creative people who understand the power of an entrepreneurial idea and have a sense of the process required to turn that idea into a successful business.
Oklahoma students tell us that’s what they learn in the Governor’s Cup and that the people they meet and the contacts they develop are inspiring and endure.
When students participate in the Governor’s Cup, they gain a whole new perspective. The short-term impact on Oklahoma students is remarkable. The long-term potential for Oklahoma’s economy is huge.
For i2E, in addition to helping these budding young entrepreneurs along the entrepreneurship path, we also have seen more than 20 actual client companies emerge from the Governor’s Cup.
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 appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW? About 200 students on 47 teams representing 19 colleges and universities across Oklahoma competed in the 2013 Governor’s Cup business plan competition.