Presenters, Judges Finalized for Online Heartland Challenge Competition


Steve Case, chairman and chief executive officer of the investment firm Revolution and co-founder of AOL, will present the awards for the Heartland Challenge, a global collegiate startup competition to be held online May 27-29.

The Heartland Challenge moved forward despite the challenges posed by the restrictions around the global pandemic, pivoting to an online showdown among 12 top entrepreneurial teams from around the world for its semifinals and finals.

Case will announce the awards and offer remarks to the winners of the competition. Anna Mason, partner at the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund at Revolution, has agreed to mentor the top four teams in one-on-one sessions.

Revolution leads the Rise of the Rest bus tour each year to celebrate entrepreneurship in America’s heartland.

Invited graduate student entrepreneurial teams are competing for a cash prize pool of $95,000, with $50,000 going to the overall winner.

The Heartland Challenge competition, with primary support from the Walton Family Foundation, is organized by the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business. The U of A’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Arkansas Capital Corporation, a community development finance company that is known for the success of its annual Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition, partnered to launch the new competition this year.

Twelve teams, three in each of the four semifinal tracks, will compete May 28 via Zoom to win a place in the finals on May 29. The final round and the awards ceremony, which includes an elevator pitch competition among all 12 semifinal teams, will be live streamed on Facebook for the public. The winner of the elevator pitch competition will be determined by a vote of the online audience.

The Heartland Challenge also has lined up an impressive panel of judges. Judges for the finals are:

  • Brian Henley, founder and managing partner, Recurring Capital Partners
  • Dan Kidle, partner, Arboretum Ventures
  • Chris Ladd, managing director, NewRoad Capital Partners
  • MK Marsden, founder and managing partner, Touchpoint Strategies, and co-founder, Zytara Inc.
  • Bobby W. Sandage Jr., Ph.D., managing director, Lightchain Capital; general partner, Cultivation Capital; president and chief executive officer, Euclises Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Semifinal judges are:

  • Jeff Amerine, founder and managing director, Startup Junkie Consulting
  • Canem Arkan, executive director, Endeavor Northwest Arkansas
  • Ramsay Ball, principal broker, Cignus Real Estate
  • Michael Cawthon, founder and portfolio anager, Indra Capital Partners
  • Robyn Goforth, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer, BiologicsMD
  • James Hendren, Ph.D., chairman, The Venture Center
  • Brad Henry, managing partner, Natural Capital
  • Douglas Hutchings, Ph.D., chief executive officer, Picasolar
  • Nathan Sanko, co-founder and chief executive officer, Leggera Technologies
  • April Seggebruch, chief operating officer and co-founder, Movista
  • Liz Slape, senior vice president of marketing, Movista
  • Chris Sultemeier, operating partner, NewRoad Capital Partners
  • Stan Zylowski, chief executive officer and co-founder, Movista
  • Michael Artinger, Ph.D., executive vice president and managing director, VIC Technology Venture Development
  • Tracy Black, operating partner, NewRoad Capital Partners
  • Gary Dowdy, vice president of Engineering & Technology, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.
  • Spencer Jones, founder and chief technology officer, Lineus Medical
  • Steve Nicolle, founding partner, Island Capital Partners
  • Angelo Welihindha, global go-to-market strategy and sales for emerging hardware, Google
  • Andrew Miles, southeast regional manager, Veo, and co-founder, Grox Industries