Governor’s Cup Competition Offers Economic Edge

Winners of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition take more than a cash prize with them.
They also take knowledge of entrepreneurship that has the potential to boost the Oklahoma economy, participants say.
With one of the largest cash awards pool for a student competition in the U.S., the Governor’s Cup is designed to encourage students of Oklahoma universities and colleges to act upon their ideas and talents in order to produce tomorrow’s businesses. Students compete at undergraduate and graduate levels with $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 going to the first, second and third place winners.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, in collaboration with the academic, business, government and technology communities, established and funded the Governor’s Cup with the goal of promoting entrepreneurship within Oklahoma.
Entering its third year of competition, state universities and colleges are putting together teams of students, faculty advisors and entrepreneurs for the 2007 event, said Sarah Seagraves, event director with i2E Inc., administrator of the contest.
With offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, i2E is a private not-for-profit Oklahoma corporation focused on wealth creation in Oklahoma by growing the technology-based entrepreneurial economy.
The statewide Governor’s Cup competition was launched in 2005.
University of Tulsa MBA graduate Chris Guglielmo headed the team that won the graduate division in the 2005 competition.
The award-winning business plan was Colossus NanoBatteries, which sought to commercialize the nanotechnology work of Dr. Dale Teeter, professor of chemistry at TU.
Although the resulting business was unable to reach an agreement with the university to allow it to commercialize Dr. Teeter’s concept, Guglielmo said the competition gave him experience that he will carry through his business endeavors.
A business wealth counselor at Tulsa-based Bluestem Resources Affiliated Group LLC, a Tulsa mergers and acquisitions firm, Guglielmo said when he was approached by professors to participate in the competition, he thought, “Boy howdy, this is something I would like to do.”
Because of the technical nature of the concept – the nanobatteries are rechargeable lithium ion batteries, “like you have in your cell phone or your laptop, but they are really small,” 5 billion can fit on the surface area of a nickel – it was a steep learning curve, he said, but we were “able to take Dr. Teeter’s scientific know how and mix it with business know how and come up with a blend and a direction on where to go and how to go about it.”
“We weren’t writing the business plan to enter the competition, we were writing the business plan for after the competition,” he said. “We wanted a realistic business plan, not just one that would win the competition – that’s step one – we wanted to use that winning to give us the momentum to get people involved and to launch the company.”
The network of business professionals they conferred with to write the business plan, has become a resource he “will use forever,” Guglielmo said,
The cash prize is good for two reasons, he said.
“First, it motivates you to get the business plan done. That motivation, that incentive, brings you to try to win, but in trying to win you really get quite an education that you hadn’t bargained for, things that you did not expect to learn that you learned,” he said.
University of Oklahoma-Tulsa graduate John Hassell has taken the business concept that won him second place in the 2005 Governor’s Cup graduate division competition and is turning it into a reality.
Hassell has created ZigBeef, a Tulsa-based company that is marketing long-range cattle tag identification systems.
While pursuing his doctorate in engineering on the Tulsa campus, Hassell was working on applying wireless sensor network technology to a system to help predict and prevent auto collisions, when he received an email from then OU-Tulsa’s President Kenneth Levitz explaining the Governor’s Cup competition.
“I was hammering away with this,” he said. “I was also aware that the USDA and the U.S. government had a lot of food safety concerns, and they were considering using wireless RFID chips for tracking cattle, and I also knew that the beef industry was having problems because the existing technology was very short range.”
“So it kind of fell into my lap, he said. “We were using this long range technology in autos – why not convert it into something for cattle.”
After the Governor’s Cup competition and graduation, Hassell and OU “worked out an agreement where ZigBeef has an exclusive license to use the technology.” ?

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