Competition Rules

  1. Not every circumstance can be anticipated. The competition is managed by Arkansas Capital’s 501(c)(3) affiliate, the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF). AEAF reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, the regulations, or the spirit of the competition. Should questions arise that do not appear to be addressed in these rules, please contact Marie Bruno, AEAF executive director; 501-374-9247,
  2. The Governor’s Cup is open to all faculty- or mentor-sponsored, full- or part-time, degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at any of Arkansas’s two- or four-year public, private, or independent colleges and universities. Eligible students from any program of study on campus — agriculture, business, education, engineering, health, science, tourism, etc. — are encouraged to compete. Teams can be composed of students from a mix of disciplines. Teams can also include students from more than one college and/or university.
  3. Enrollment is defined as classes taken during the 2016 summer session(s), 2016 fall semester, or the 2017 spring semester. Students who have graduated prior to the competition, but were enrolled in a degree- or certificate-seeking program during any of these semesters, are eligible to compete.
  4. Teams are encouraged to have graduate and undergraduate students working together for the purpose of cross-pollination of experience and mentoring opportunities. Teams with any one member enrolled in graduate school during the academic year must compete in the graduate competition.
  5. Students may compete individually or as a team. The maximum team size is six members.
  6. Each team is required to have at least one faculty member as its advisor. Teams are allowed to have non-faculty members as advisors/mentors with prior approval from AEAF before Friday, February 3, 2017. Please notify Marie Bruno of AEAF at the contact information listed above.
  7. AEAF relies on students and advisors/mentors to verify enrollment criteria. AEAF reserves the exclusive right to determine the validity of enrollment.
  8. The business plan may be prepared under faculty supervision for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. The plan may also be prepared under faculty supervision with no official credit.
  9. AEAF manages the Governor’s Cup competition online through Startup Compete. A team must set up an account in Startup Compete to enter the competition. See “Team Registration on Startup Compete” for more information and instructions.
  10. Each team must submit an “Intent to Compete” via Startup Compete by 11:59 p.m. Friday, February 3, 2017, whether it intends to enter a business plan or is still undecided. See “Submitting Intents to Compete” for more information and instructions.
  11. In addition to the Undergraduate and Graduate competition tracks, teams also have the opportunity to compete in the Agriculture and Innovation tracks. Teams planning to enter one or both of these divisions should indicate these intents accordingly while completing the Intent to Compete in Startup Compete. If only one teams enters a track, there will be no competition in that track.
  12. Teams cannot submit more than one business plan into the competition.
  13. The management team outlined in the plan must include the names of individuals (if any) who are not associated with the college or university. Presenting group members must be eligible students and have a key role on the company’s management team (i.e., CEO, COO, VP, etc.). Non-student members of the venture’s management team may not participate in any competition presentations.
  14. Previous efforts to establish the business or participating in business-like activities which include, but are not limited to the following: attempts to raise capital, developing and presenting the business plan to potential investors, and conducting substantial market research outside of the 2016-2017 academic year will be disqualified. This includes business plans that were submitted to AEAF in previous Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competitions.
  15. The business plan must be for a new and independent venture in the seed, start-up, or early-growth stages. Plans that include proposals for buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, spin-outs from existing corporations, and other consulting projects or analyses are not eligible. Non-profit proposals are also not eligible. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been commercialized previously.
  16. Teams may submit plans based on a technology, product, or service that has been licensed from another company, private inventor, or university with their written approval. In these cases, teams will be required to verify they have written approval upon upload/submission of their business plans on StartupCompete.
  17. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
  18. The business should not have received more than $200,000 in equity-related capital (such as seed capital or institutional funding), or generated more than $100,000 in gross revenue prior to the current academic year. Revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be excluded from this provision.
  19. The business plan must represent the original work of team members. For example: If a team builds a business plan upon an idea from an outside person or entity, the team cannot take material or information (such as market and competitive analysis, financials, operating strategies, etc.) from that person or entity for use in their Governor’s Cup business plan. By submitting a plan into the competition, the team automatically affirms this requirement. Any team submitting a plagiarized business plan will be disqualified.
  20. The author(s) will retain all rights to the plan regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition, except as stated elsewhere in these rules.
  21. The plans may not contain fabricated information about (but not limited to) the following: backgrounds, experience and educational levels of members of the management team, stage of product development, product performance claims, or market survey results.
  22. Due to the nature of the competition, AEAF will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any competitor. By participating in the competition, competitors agree that neither AEAF, Arkansas Capital Corporation; nor members of the judging panels; sponsors, nor their designate organizations; assume any liability for any disclosures of business plan information which may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member, or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the competition.
  23. Plans are limited to a maximum of 30 pages, including the Executive Summary and excluding the Cover Page, Table of Contents, and Appendices. Pages beyond this limit will be omitted from judging.
  24. Appendices should be included only when they support the findings, statements, and observations in the plan.
  25. Summary of financial data should include a five-year pro-forma cash flow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. Include an explanation to investors of how much capital will be required in the first and future rounds of investment, how funds from the first round will be used, and what milestones will be met using first round of funding. Delineate possible exit strategies and identify companies or categories of companies for which this company might be an attractive acquisition candidate in future years. Business plans may include the expected ROI for investors and the proposed structure of the deal, i.e., loan, preferred A stock, convertible note, etc.
  26. Plans must be typed in Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman with a 10- or 12-point font size. Page margins must be one inch. Paragraphs and sentences may be single- or double-spaced. Pages must be numbered. Please click here for more information on business plan content and formatting.
  27. Business plans must be submitted via upload to Startup Compete by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 26, 2017.
  28. By participating in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup, competitors agree to allow AEAF and Arkansas Capital, and/or their designated organizations, the unlimited right to videotape, photograph, audiotape, transcribe, or otherwise record all public sessions of the competition; including, but not limited to, oral presentations and question-and-answer sessions.
  29. Competitors also agree that AEAF and Arkansas Capital, and/or their designated organizations, may use any such transcriptions and/or recording(s) (in whole or part) for such publicity and marketing purposes as their organizations may see fit, including those which may result in remuneration.
  30. The Oral Presentation Rounds of the competition will be March 30 and 31 at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Little Rock. The Overall Undergraduate Division semi-finalists, Agriculture Division finalists, and Innovation Division finalists will present on Thursday, March 30. Six Undergraduate Division finalists will be announced Thursday evening. The Overall Undergraduate Division and Graduate Division finalists will present Friday, March 31. All winners will be announced at the Awards Luncheon, Tuesday, April 11.
  31. Teams have the opportunity to modify and submit their business plans based on feedback received from judges in the preliminary round in advance of oral presentations. The deadline to re-submit business plans is 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 17, via upload on their team accounts in Startup Compete. Oral presentation backup PowerPoint presentations, completed and signed W9 (or WBEN) tax forms, and completed and signed media releases are due from teams by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 27.
  32. All oral presentations are open to the public. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by competitors should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm (including print or broadcast through media, including the Internet), and competitors should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions. Neither Arkansas Capital, AEAF, (or their designated organizations), or judges and sponsors assume any duty to screen or otherwise control the identity of those attending, viewing or hearing all or part of these public sessions. Competitors agree that, by entering the competition, they have been made aware that such attendees, viewers and recipients may include members of the media and potential competitors in addition to members of the business, education, and financial communities; students; and faculty.
    • Once a team begins its oral presentation, no one is allowed to enter or leave the presentation room until the end of the presentation.
    • Team members are not allowed to bring food or beverages into the rooms during their presentation.
    • Teams may bring product samples for their presentations. Promotional items or giveaways for judges are prohibited. Paper materials for the judges are allowed, but not required.
    • Team members cannot observe other teams’ oral presentations until after they have finished their presentation.
  • Students, advisors, or any other guests in the room who engage in communication with a team during its oral presentation, such as (but not limited to) head movements, hand gestures, or signaling, will be asked to leave the room and the team will be disqualified from the competition.

Quick Links: