Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

May 2015

ECU Entrepreneurship Teams Sweep Small Business Awards at Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup Competition

Three ECU entrepreneurship teams swept the top three spots in the Small Business Division at the 2015 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Thursday. Pictured are ECU administrators and members of the three teams. From left to right are: Miles Mitchell of team SuiteSeat; Stacey Bolin, faculty advisor to the ECU teams; Dr. Katricia Pierson, assistant vice president for academic affairs; Matthew Butler of Team Back-Spin; Miranda McNabb of Team Back-Spin; ECU President John Hargrave; and Stanford Mahlatini of Team Gourmet Grub.

East Central University swept all three team awards in the Small Business Division and two ECU individuals – Miranda McNabb and Miles Mitchell – were honored as well, during the 2015 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Thursday, April 16, at the Chevy Events Center at Bricktown in Oklahoma City.

Team SuiteSeat, led by Mitchell, captured first place. Team Gourmet Grub, led by Stanford Mahlatini, took second and Team Back-Spin, led by McNabb with team member Matthew Butler, placed third.

Mitchell is from Louisville, Ky., Mahlatini from Zimbabwe, McNabb from Bristow and Butler from Fort Worth, Texas.

Additionally, McNabb was named a 2015 Paulsen Award Scholarship winner and Mitchell captured the pitch competition in which he presented in front of the large audience gathered at the event.

The statewide competition encourages team building, academic diversity, market research and financial projections as key elements in creating a winning team.

“I’m proud of the hard work and dedication these students put in. They spent hours and hours getting ready,” said Stacey Bolin, faculty advisor to the ECU teams. “There were some nights they worked until 2, 3 or 4 in the morning.”

According to Bolin, this competition has far-reaching effects, not only for the individual students but the state as a whole.

“One of my favorite things is that the judges give constructive feedback to get you to the next level. The goal is to impact the economy (with small business) in the state of Oklahoma,” Bolin said. “This was a fantastic learning experience.”

The concept summaries for the three winning ECU teams are as follows:

*SuiteSeat takes advantage of wireless technology and the many mobile devices carried by consumers to bring the ballpark shopping experience to their seats.

*Gourmet Grub is a quick-service restaurant with a healthy menu. The restaurant will provide a brick-and-mortar location as well as offering vending and catering operations for consumers.

*Back-Spin is a baseball training device that holds a baseball from the top, allowing a batter to focus on the bottom half of the ball and create back spin when hitting the middle or lower part of the ball.

The competition featured a pitch contest as each team gave a 90-second pitch on their business plan concept. The key to a great pitch is the ability to describe who you are, what you do, how you do it and how much money you need.

A written plan was then formulated. It takes a great deal of research and includes a description of business, industry background, marketing environment including the primary and potential competition, operational factors, business resources, management, financial capabilities and needs and, in the case of start-up, the breakdown point and potential.

Then came the presentation, which told potential investors the market need and solution, described the business model, product and service, size of the industry and market, marketing strategy, sales plan, competitive advantage, marketing team, funding requirements, use of funds, financials and exit strategy.

This is the third straight year in which ECU has sent teams to the Governor’s Cup competition. Last year, two ECU teams reached the finals and one - LockWall – captured second place. In 2013, one ECU team – Common Ground - reached the finals but did not place in their initial year. Andrea McKinney, like McNabb this year, won a Paulsen Award Scholarship in 2013.

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