Each year when the trophies are awarded in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competition, I think about what motivated the winning students to add such a rigorous challenge to their semester. I think about the campus from which they came and how their work paid off in statewide recognition and a cash prize.
That’s the bottom line for me. Students accepting a challenge and seeing it pay off in a big way.
For 2013, more Oklahoma college students than ever before will be offered that challenge.
We’ve added a Small Business Division to the GovCup that is opening new doors of opportunity on any college campus in Oklahoma. It’s the biggest change in the competition’s 9-year history.
What it means is that students at the state’s regional and private universities, as well as 2-year college can compete for $40,000 against students from similar campuses.
While the high-growth Graduate and Undergraduate divisions will remain open to any college student, I anticipate seeing teams from all points in the state submitting written Small Business Division business plans and pitching them to a panel of investors in April.
If you are wondering how this change will be received at Oklahoma’s 2-year colleges, I offer the enthusiastic response from Dr. Steve Smith, President of Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” Smith said. “There were some challenges to us being in the Governor’s Cup. People listened, understood our academic environments and invested the effort to expanding the program so schools like Eastern can compete.”
The Small Business Division offers students the opportunity to write business plans around any basic business concept, provide the approach is innovative and/or unique. A business can be a retail operation, a service business, a restaurant, or even a custom welding shop. Qualifying businesses cannot be a replication of a proven business model.
Dr. Smith, who has been President of Eastern for about seven years, says that the Governor’s Cup competition fits well with the Eastern curriculum.
“I want to promote the Governor’s Cup and get students and faculty involved,” he said. “At Eastern, we are entrepreneurial in nature.”
The average student at Eastern is 27 years old.
“We have lots of adults and single parents,” Dr. Smith said. “They are raising kids, working, and going to school. We stress to them that going to college is a commitment that they need to be all in on — that it takes hard work to find your niche. The Governor’s Cup experience and prizes can be a huge incentive to do the kind of work that leads to success.”
When I watch the GovCup winners walk across the stage to receive their awards next April, I expect to see Small Business Division teams from a college like Eastern State College among those rewarded.
And I’ll think about the campus from which they came and how their work paid off in a big way.