Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Banner Year for Startup Teams in Regional, National Competitions

The medical device company Lapovations of the University of Arkansas received first place and best elevator pitch at the University of Oregon New Venture Championship competition. It was the team’s sixth overall victory in startup contests this year, with five of the wins coming in highly competitive national competitions. This victory establishes Lapovations as the most successful startup competition team in U of A history and brought their cash and investment winnings to just over $300,000.

Lapovations is led by graduate students in the College of Engineering and the Sam M. Walton College of Business. The team also took first place and best elevator pitch at the statewide Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup, where University of Arkansas teams swept the graduate division awards and won first and second-place awards in the undergraduate agriculture track.

Lapovations: (l-r) Flavia Araujo, Michael Dunavant, and Jared Greer [Photo Courtesy Rice University]
Lapovations: (l-r) Flavia Araujo, Michael Dunavant, and Jared Greer [Photo Courtesy Rice University]
Lapovations is developing a platform of products that improve minimally invasive surgery. The company’s CEO, Jared Greer, is a master’s student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Flavia Araujo, a full-time M.B.A. student, and Michael Dunavant, an executive M.B.A. student, also competed as part of the team. The three students met in the graduate-level New Venture Development course taught by Carol Reeves, associate vice chancellor for entrepreneurship, whose teams have won more national business competitions since 2009 than those from any other university in America.

More Than a Class

“What people should understand about Dr. Reeves’ class is that it is not just an academic exercise,” said Jared Greer, CEO of Lapovations. “For teams like ours who have a viable business idea or commercial technology, it’s more like an accelerator program. In addition to excellent classroom instruction, we received in-depth mentoring from a network of experts, access to angel and venture capital investors, seed funding for customer validation from the Delta I-Fund, and around-the-clock coaching from our advisers during competition season. It was a lot of work but also the best possible preparation for starting and growing a new business.”

Lapovations also took second place in the prestigious Rice University Business Plan Competition and first in the Baylor University New Venture Competition, SXSW Pitch Texas, Stu Clark Investment Competition at the University of Manitoba, and the Brown-Forman Cardinal Challenge at the University of Louisville. They took second place at the Ivey Business Plan Competition at Western University in Canada.

“Bringing new technologies to the life science market is more challenging than many people imagine,” said Reeves. “Lapovations’ stunning success in national startup competitions bodes well for the company’s future and each of the team members’ individual futures, because it is a direct result of their hard work, diligence, and willingness to learn from medical industry experts and potential customers.”

An Arkansas Tradition

Arkansas’ flagship business plan competition, the Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup, attracts undergraduate and graduate teams from many of the state’s public and private institutions of higher learning. Lapovations was joined by U of A New Venture Development Teams UChooze Lunchbox and Ozark Microheater Systems, who won second and third place, respectively, in the graduate division. OMS also won the graduate division innovation award, which carried a cash prize of $5,000.

Two undergraduate teams from the University of Arkansas, Connor Innovation Roveround and SCAN Ag, won first and second place, respectively, in the agriculture track.

Sponsored in 2018 by Delta Plastics with a cash prize pool of $154,000, the Arkansas Governor’s Cup has since 2001 been organized by Arkansas Capital, through its 501(c)(3) Arkansas Economic Acceleration Foundation (AEAF).

Delta Plastics Arkansas Governor’s Cup

Overall Graduate Winners

Lapovations wins 2018 Governor's Cup.
Lapovations wins 2018 Governor’s Cup.

1st Place: $25,000
Lapovations LLC
University of Arkansas
Team: Jared Greer, Michael Dunavant, Flavia Araujo
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

2nd Place: $15,000
Uchooze Lunchbox LLC
University of Arkansas
Team: William Rockefeller, Leslie Godwin, Daniel Maldonado, Rebecca Holgate, Tanya Welihindha
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

3rd Place: $10,000
Ozark Microheater Systems
University of Arkansas
Team: Benjamin McGuire, Joel Harris, Nicholas Holt, Jordan Wilcox
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

Innovation Division

Graduate: $5,000
Ozark Microheater Systems
University of Arkansas
Team: Benjamin McGuire, Joel Harris, Nicholas Holt, Jordan Wilcox
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

Agriculture Division 

Connor Innovation Roveround take first place in agriculture division.
Connor Innovation Roveround take first place in agriculture division.

1st Place: $5,000
Connor Innovation Roveround
University of Arkansas
Team: Cara Conner, Grant Conner
Adviser: Jeremy Powell

SCAN AG takes 2nd place in the agriculture division.
SCAN AG takes 2nd place in the agriculture division.

2nd Place: $3,000
SCAN AG
University of Arkansas
Team: Henderson Clement, Bailey Pratt, Branson Vanlandingham
Adviser: Mark Zweig

Elevator Pitch

Graduate: $2,000
Lapovations LLC
University of Arkansas
Team: Jared Greer, Michael Dunavant, Flavia Araujo
Advisers: Carol Reeves, Sarah Goforth

About the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation: The mission of the University of Arkansas’ Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is to catalyze entrepreneurial activities and innovation across the university and throughout the state in order to build Arkansas’ knowledge-based economy and support healthy, sustainable communities. Since 2009, University of Arkansas students have won more national business plan competitions – 27 in all – than any other institution.