University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Business Plan Competitions

Each spring semester, graduate student entrepreneurship teams compete in state, national, and international competitions and pitch their business ideas to judges and investors. These competitions serve as valuable networking venues and award hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money–helping to get viable startups off the ground.

A Plan, A Project, A Venture

Student teams form in the summer and fall before business plan season, as part of the New Venture Development class (MGMT 5323). In this class they develop ideas for a startup and write a business plan. Students with a viable business idea may subsequently enroll in the spring semester Business Plan Project (MBAD 5413) course, during which they are mentored by experienced entrepreneurs and investors from around Arkansas and North America. The teams compete in regional and national competitions throughout the spring semester.

Startups emerging from the program have been focused on drug development, software applications, and renewable energy, to name a few. Ideas often come from research and intellectual property 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 encouraged to participate.

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


During the 2017 season, our students competed in:

  • Canada (Stu Clark Investment Competition)
  • Georgia (Georgia Bowl)
  • Kentucky (Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge)
  • Oregon (New Venture Championship)
  • Texas (SXSW, Rice University Business Plan Competition, Baylor New Venture Competition)
  • Nevada (Tri-State)
  • Arkansas (Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup)



Due to successes at early competitions, many teams qualify to compete in the Reynolds Tri-State Competition and Rice University Business Plan Competition, considered to be the "super bowl" of competitions. In 2017, the graduate team Grox Industries competed at Rice and took first place at Tri-State in Las Vegas.

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 $60 million in funding and grants. These companies now have a total of more than 100 employees, most of whom earn high-paying salaries.

Business Plan Competition