Lapovations LLC, a University of Arkansas entrepreneurship team developing a platform of innovative products that improve minimally invasive surgery, won first place at the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge business plan competition in Louisville, Kentucky.
Lapovations beat 11 teams from across the United States and Canada after a selective entry process, bringing home $15,000 for their first-place win on Feb. 17.
“The Lapovations team has worked extremely hard to achieve this success,” said Carol Reeves, associate vice chancellor for entrepreneurship. “Their victory is an important validation of that effort, and it also highlights the value of an interdisciplinary team that combines technical innovation with business acumen. I couldn’t be prouder.”
The Lapovations team has accepted $50,000 in seed funding from the Delta I-Fund, an Arkansas program designed to help early stage, knowledge-based businesses develop through intensive customer discovery and mentoring.
Jared Greer, Lapovations’ chief executive officer and a master’s student in biomedical engineering, brings 15 years of medical sales experience to his role in the venture. He also is a successful entrepreneur, having built prior ventures.
“As an entrepreneur, I am a perpetual student, so I know the value of the world-class coaching and mentoring we’ve had as part of the New Venture Development program at the university and as participants in the Delta I-Fund program,” Greer said. “There is no substitute for hard work, but the value of that work is greatly magnified with so much expertise at hand.”
In addition to Greer, the team includes Walton College M.B.A. students Flavia Araujo and Michael Dunavant.
The University of Toronto took second place in the Cardinal Challenge, followed by the University of Louisville for third, and the University of California, Los Angeles, came in fourth.
The Cardinal Challenge offers students an opportunity to present innovative business plans to potential investors, while providing investors with an advanced look at up-and-coming entrepreneurs and new ventures. Lapovations is the fourth team from the University of Arkansas to take top honors in this competition; others include BiologicsMD (2010), SpatiaLink (2012), and VivImmune (2016).
This award adds to more than $2.8 million in prize money that teams in the university’s graduate-level New Venture Development program have been awarded since 2009.