As the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition wraps up later this month, Dave Croasdell from the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business has been selected as one of two 2013 Governor's Cup Faculty Advisors of the Year, and nine University student teams moved into the finals out of more than 60 entries.
The University teams that earned five of six finalist positions in the graduate division include CH4OICE; ContinuEd.me; DataBeam, Inc.; ElectroVentures, Inc.; and EscaZyme Biochemicals, LLC. Four of five finalist spots for the Lt. Governor's Award, a parallel competition for the business plan that best employs clean, renewable or efficient energy technologies and services, went to Carbon Gold; CH4OICE; DataBeam, Inc.; and Sierra Green Products, LLC.
"The University dominated the graduate and Lt. Governor Award tracks," said Dave Archer, president and CEO of Nevada's Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NCET), the sponsoring organization for the Governor's Cup competition which is open to college and university students throughout Nevada. "The students came from a wide variety of academic disciplines. Their business plan ideas and domination in these two areas is probably significant because a number of them participated in the Sontag Competition."
The University's own Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition was completed in March. The competition launched last year and is supported by a $1 million gift alumnus Rick Sontag made to the University in 2011.
According to Archer, the faculty advisors are the heart and soul of these business and entrepreneurial competitions because they help students turn their ideas into written business plans.
"Literally, the Governor's Cup wouldn't be possible without faculty advisors like Dave Croasdell," Archer said. "Arguably they are the most important group in the Governor's Cup because they work directly with the student teams."
Archer praised Croasdell, chair of the University's Information Systems Department and the Charles and Ruth Hopping Professor of Entrepreneurship, both for his work with the student teams and his role as the coordinator of the Sontag Competition.
"One of the most important innovations in the last several years is the creation of campus-specific business plan competitions which help prepare students for the Governor's Cup," Archer said.
Two of the University's graduate finalist teams were winners in the 2013 Sontag Competition, EscaZyme Biochemicals, LLC won the gold prize and ElectroVentures, Inc. won silver.
"I really don't think I deserve it," said Croasdell of his award. "There are many people who stepped up to help, and I'm just happy to be involved."
Croasdell is enthusiastic about what he calls "a tremendous organic groundswell" in the community of entrepreneurship activity and competitions.
"We have a course in the spring that is all about putting together business plans and entering the Governor's Cup. Historically we've done quite well in this competition. I am very excited about the graduate student team finalists since I have been working with a number of them."
Cash prizes of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 go to the first, second and third place winners in both the Governor's Cup graduate and undergraduate competition categories. The Lt. Governor's Award offers a $10,000 cash prize to the winner. Cash awards are also made to the finalist teams and their faculty advisors. According to NCET, the prize pool is higher than most national-level awards.
In its ninth year, the Governor's Cup Competition requires students to create a written business plan and oral presentation for a seed or start-up venture that must address the entire business concept including implementation. Each team must have a faculty member or approved mentor as an advisor. The winners will be announced at an awards dinner on April 18 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.