University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Business Plan Competitions

Everyone has a favorite season. Ours is the Business Plan Competition season! Each spring semester, graduate student teams compete in state, national, and international competitions as they pitch their business ideas to judges. 

A Plan, A Project, A Venture

These student teams form in the previous summer and fall during the New Venture Development class (MGMT 5323), where they develop ideas for a startup and write a business plan. This is followed by enrollment in Business Plan Project (MBAD 5413), which allows students the opportunity to compete throughout the spring semester.

Ideas for companies have ranged from medical to tech-based. These ideas often come from research and IP generated by faculty and students at the University of Arkansas and universities around the state. Therefore, diverse student teams consisting of students from engineering, science, business, accounting, and legal fields are often the most successful. Students from all disciplines are always encouraged to participate.

Our teams successfully compete in competitions throughout the country, and world.


During the 2015 season, our students competed in

  • Canada (IBK Capital, Ontario & Stu Clark Investment, Manitoba)
  • Georgia (Georgia Bowl)
  • Thailand (mai Bangkok Business Challenge)
  • Louisville (Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge)
  • Portland (New Venture Championship)
  • Nebraska
  • Texas (Baylor New Venture Competition)
  • Las Vegas
  • Arkansas (NWA Innovate HER Competition and the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup)



Due to successes at these competitions, many teams qualify to compete in the Reynolds Tri-State Competition and Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, considered to be the "super bowl" of competitions. In 2015, the graduate team Kordate Solutions won first place at Tri-State in Las Vegas and took home $30,000.

Competitions are a lot of fun! Not only do students get to practice their presentation skills, refine their business plans, and make really great connections in the investment and startup communities, but there is also the chance to win cash prizes. To date, students have won over $2.3 million in cash during these competitions.

The greatest outcome, however, is the success of student teams forming startups. Several past teams have actually started companies in Arkansas, raising almost $40 million in funding and grants. These companies now have a total of 97 employees, most of whom earn high-paying salaries.

Donald W Reynolds Business Plan Competition