Competition Rules

Not every circumstance can be anticipated. The Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF) reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations, or the spirit of the competition.


The Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Competition is an invitation-only event. Invitations are extended to the first and second place winners in the undergraduate and graduate divisions of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup collegiate business plan competitions in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Nevada.

Faculty Supervision

The business plan may be prepared under faculty or mentor 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.

Team Members

Team size cannot exceed six members. Team members presenting at Tri-State must be the same as those who presented in the state competitions. Substitutions of team members are not allowed. Non-student members cannot participate in any presentations. The management team outlined in the plan must contain the names of individuals (if any) who are not associated with the university.

Graduate School Provision

Teams with at least one member enrolled in graduate school during the academic year must compete in the graduate track of the competition.

Original Work

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.

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.

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.

Disclosure and Liability

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.

Qualified Ventures

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 2015-2016 academic year will be disqualified. This includes business plans that were submitted to AEAF in previous Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competitions.

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.

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.

Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.

Sales Revenue

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.

Observation of Competitor Presentations

Team members and advisors cannot observe other team presentations until after their own presentations are finished. No one will be allowed to enter or leave presentation rooms once the doors are shut and until the presentation session is complete.

Any observers engaging in communication with a team during its 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.

Open to the Public

All presentations are open to the public at large. Further, it is possible that presentations will be broadcast to interested persons through media, which may include broadcast, print, social media, and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in presentations should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged, or presented in these sessions. Neither the host organizations, judges, sponsors, nor their designate organizations, assume any duty to screen or otherwise control the identity of those attending, viewing or hearing all or part of these public sessions, and entrants 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 financial community, students and faculty.

Rights of Use

By participating in Tri-State, student entrants agree to grant the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, Arkansas Capital, and/or organizations designated by them 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. All entrants agree that the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation, Arkansas Capital, and/or their designate 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 profit. All business plans become property of the Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation and will be shredded after the competition with one copy maintained for archival purposes only.

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