Loveís Entrepreneurís Cup overcomes pandemic to conduct virtual competition
Student entrepreneurs from college campuses across Oklahoma pitched winning business plans online to virtual panels of judges in the recent Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition that awarded $158,000 in cash prizes and scholarships.
Oral presentations in the 2020 Love’s Cup were done via a videoconferencing platform as the competition pivoted away from live competition to ensure social distancing because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Managed by i2E, Inc., the competition presented itself as #LovesCupIsUnstoppable.
More than 100 students converged from distant locations in Zoom meeting rooms to pitch their concepts to Oklahoma investors and business leaders serving as judges.
After watching the presentations from their own remote locations, judges then ranked the top three teams in the Small Business, High Growth Undergraduate and High Growth Graduate divisions.
The announcements of winning teams also took place over the Zoom platform with a virtual awards ceremony as an audience of students, advisors and sponsors watched from remote locations across the state.
Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell told the announcement audience that innovators like those competing in the Love’s Cup are critical to lifting the country out of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
“Through this crisis we are in, I believe it will be the case that the entrepreneurs, the businesses and the innovation that we see right now is what will lead this state and this country into the future,” Pinnell said. “Congratulations to you all for getting to this point and for your passion for entrepreneurship and building businesses.’
Team Argus from Oklahoma Christian University claimed first place and a $10,000 prize in the Small Business competition. Argus pitched a concept to collect information on a person’s physical health using motion capture technology and through bio-mechanical analysis software provide vital biofeedback about their movement and physical health.
Argus team members were Sydni Lehr, team leader, and Vinicius Alves, Derrick Karake and Caleb Davis. Advisor was Seth Reiter.
Novel Neuro from the University of Tulsa was first place winner in the High Growth Undergraduate Division, winning a $20,000 award. Novel Neuro developed a patent-pending cognitive assessment platform that more accurately identifies falsified claims of brain injuries.
Novel Neuro team members were Brittanie Whitney, team leader, Faith Nichols, Sophie Zehetner and Lena Schmenn. Advisor was Chris Wright.
Team Juno from the University of Oklahoma won first place and $20,000 in the High Growth Graduate Division. Juno offers a line of biodegradable pregnancy and ovulation tests that aims to reduce the vast volume of plastic waste accrued from 20 million at-home tests that are discarded annually.
Juno team members were Dilina Abudurexiti, team leader, Salyid Isba Maududi, Maria Doutey and Mark Allen. The advisor was Ron Bolen.
Also addressing the awards announcement audience was Jenny Love Meyer, Chief Culture Officer for Love’s Travel Stops. Meyer told the young entrepreneurs that they fulfill the vision of Tom and Judy Love when they founded Love’s Travel Stops more than 50 years ago with one store in Watonga, OK.
“As one of the largest companies in America, we’re proud to support the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs who will lead future startups as they create jobs and wealth for our great state,” Meyer said.
i2E CEO Scott Meacham closed the awards ceremony by addressing the way the students, sponsors, judges and i2E team members overcame unexpected obstacles to execute an “exceptional” 2020 Love’s Cup.
"Life really threw us a curveball this year,” Meacham said. “It’s really important in the business world that we learn how to deal with curveballs just like this because the greatest change happens when we are in times of crisis or challenge. That’s when ingenuity and hard work pay off to help us find new paths and new ways forward. It was really important to us to allow the Love’s Cup to go on as it always has and for you to experience this valuable learning opportunity.
"The 2020 Love’s Cup truly was unstoppable,” Meacham said.
2020 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup winners
Small Business Division
First place – Argus, Oklahoma Christian University, $10,000
Second place – Tough Cookie, Building Mentally Tough Kids, $8,000
Third place – Crop Cut, East Central University, $4,000
High Growth Undergraduate Division
First place – Novel Neuro, University of Tulsa, $20,000
Second place – Cadenzo, University of Oklahoma, $10,000
Third place – Whisk, Oklahoma State University, $5,000
High Growth Graduate Division
First place – Juno, University of Oklahoma, $20,000
Second place – WhiCount, East Central University, $10,000
Third place – DevCycle, University of Tulsa, $5,000
Oklahoma Business Roundtable Paulsen Award $5,000 Scholarships
Dilina Abudurexiti, University of Oklahoma
Rachel Brown, Oklahoma State University
Cullen Edens, East Central University
Cox Communications Pitch Winners, $1,000
Tanner Jack, East Central University
Christian Coleman, University of Central Oklahoma
Casey Black, East Central University
BancFirst Small Business Division Interview winners, $1,000
IT/App – Crop Cut, East Central University
Service – Argus, Oklahoma Christian University
Product – Eco-Snap Tiles, East Central University
Retail – Tough Cookie: Building Mentally Tough Kids, University of Central Oklahoma
High Growth Division Interview winners, $1,000
The Chickasaw Nation Student Generated — Cadenzo, University of Oklahoma
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Healthcare — Novel Neuro, University of Tulsa
OG&E Positive Energy & Environmental – EmPads, Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma Business Roundtable, Manufacturing, Material Sciences and Transportation – Dartz USA, LLC, University of Central Oklahoma
OCAST Information & Technology – Chasing Failure, University of Oklahoma
Greg Main Distinguished Scholar Award $5,000
Jacob Wallace, NEO A&M College