Category Archives: Graduate Student

Accounting Ph.D. Alumnus Receives National Outstanding Educator Award

Jan R. Williams, dean and professor emeritus of the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee who earned a Ph.D. in 1970 from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, is one of two recipients of the 2018 Outstanding Accounting Educator Award from the American Accounting Association. Continue reading Accounting Ph.D. Alumnus Receives National Outstanding Educator Award

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.

EPIC Spotlight: Angela Darnell

Angela Darnell has always been in the business of helping people.

For 14 years, she was the voice who assisted people dialing 411 for directory assistance. While at her job, she led her coworkers in a food drive to help Northwest Arkansas’ homeless population. Continue reading EPIC Spotlight: Angela Darnell

Walton Ph.D. Student Wins Fellowship to Study Rice, Information, Markets

Information moves markets. That’s something every business student understands – or should.

Jessica Darby wrote her honors thesis on the relationship of rice markets and information while she was a University of Arkansas undergraduate. Now, as a doctoral candidate in the university’s Sam M. Walton College of Business, she’s studying ways that timely and accurate information flowing out of the supply chain can help rice farmers in Arkansas and around the world.

Darby researches how rice farmers get their information about markets and how they make decisions based on that information. She’s asking farmers if better sources of information, additional resources and more analytical tools can be developed to help with market decisions.

In spring 2017, Darby gained support for this research by winning a prestigious and highly competitive Adam Smith Fellowship from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The one-year fellowship for graduate students – which includes a quarterly stipend – can total up to $10,000. Fellows also are eligible to apply for conference and research support.

“I believe that working with the Mercatus Center will help me develop market-based tools and address relevant policy levers to reduce the information burden for farmers,” Darby said. “I want to articulate the power of markets in agricultural supply chains.”

Her research can also be a powerful tool in helping the farmers and the economy of Arkansas. Arkansas is the largest rice-growing state in the nation, with the crop grown on 1.3 million acres each year, mainly in eastern Arkansas counties stretching from Louisiana to Missouri.

Darby’s interest in commodities such as rice and the behavior of commodity markets was sparked by an internship as a commodity analyst with an Arkansas-based global trading and sourcing company, and a second internship with one of the largest shippers of grain on the inland river system. The latter gave her insight into the role that public information – especially United States Department of Agriculture reports – plays in decisions.

“In both roles, I was responsible for producing regional analysis to determine potential growth and necessary defense strategies to adapt to changing market and political environments,” Darby said.

Darby was introduced to free-market concepts and information’s impact on commodity trading and pricing through a Walton College supply chain class on capitalism and a class on futures and options in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. The latter class sparked an interest in working with Andrew McKenzie, a professor of agricultural economics and agri-business.

“He introduced me to Milo Hamilton’s book, When Rice Shakes the World,” Darby said. “Hamilton discusses the implications of policies on the functioning of global rice markets and argues for a ‘freer, market-oriented way for rice.’”

McKenzie directed Darby’s honors thesis on rice futures markets. The two published that research in the U of A undergraduate research journal Inquiry and then extended the research. Darby presented this extended research as a paper at the NCCC-134 Applied Commodity Price Analysis, Forecasting and Risk Management Conference. The two then co-authored an article on the topic – “Information Content of USDA Rice Reports and Price Reactions of Rice Futures” – that was published in Agribusiness: An International Journal.

“Our research shows that the USDA provides the rice futures market with important information needed by Arkansas rice mills and farmers to market their crops,” McKenzie said. “The Arkansas Farm Bureau notes that Arkansas farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year, which generates billions of dollars to the state’s economy and accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs, crucial to rural communities.”

The impact of such research on Arkansas and its economy inspires Darby to continue to dig into the topic. “It’s important to me that my research connect to industry,” Darby said. “I have to see the practical application for both farmers and agri-businesses – especially those involved in the food supply chains here in Arkansas.”

McKenzie added that, in an era of declining federal budgets, the kind of research he and Darby have produced provides economic justification for the continued publication of USDA reports. Darby said that it also illustrates an opportunity for the private sector to provide additional valuable information.

“Our results undoubtedly show that USDA reports play a vital role in helping futures markets to discover price and that this is particularly important for the U.S. rice market, where there is a paucity of private data and forecasts to supplement government numbers,” McKenzie said. “However, our research also highlights the fact that rice futures are a thinly traded market with low liquidity and volume.”

McKenzie and Darby are currently engaged in potential research to explore factors that may be driving low trading levels, which increases uncertainty for farmers. Darby said the aim is to determine potential solutions to increase volume and open interest through both regulatory changes and private information provided by partners in the supply chain.

Darby earned a B.S.B.A. in economics from the Walton College in 2015 and a Walton M.B.A. in 2016. She says her passion for reading, research and free-market capitalism left no doubt she would enter Walton’s doctoral program right away. Winning the Adam Smith Fellowship is pushing that passion into a whole different realm, though.

“I believe that it will enable me to examine and better articulate the power of markets in global agricultural supply chains,” Darby said, “as well as the power of global agricultural supply chains in the structuring of global markets.”

Small Business and Technology Development Center Helps Alumna Start Student-Athletes Unite, LLC

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the Sam M. Walton College of business has assisted a University of Arkansas graduate student in starting a business to help prepare student athletes for the rigors and expectations of college academics, athletics and student life.

Krystal Beachum, who worked as an academic counselor for Razorback women’s basketball, tennis and volleyball programs, started Student-Athletes Unite, LLC, to offer consulting services for future collegiate athletes and their families.

“I realized early on in my career how necessary it is to provide more resources and information to the student-athletes and their families today because I have experienced first-hand, hard lessons when student-athletes were misinformed on recruiting, marketing themselves and athletic scholarships,” Beachum said. “I want to educate, inspire and connect these students and their families with the resources they need for success.”

Beachum, from Mexia, Texas, is a first-generation college student, having received full athletic scholarships to play basketball for McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She earned her master’s degree in sports management from the University of Arkansas in May 2016 while serving as a graduate assistant with the athletic department.

Beachum maintained her college scholarships and a high grade point average while being a member in multiple honor societies and playing women’s basketball. While working as academic counselor for the University of Arkansas, she assisted in prospective-athlete recruiting tours, monitored the collegiate progress and performance indicators for 40 Division I Razorback student-athletes and assisted them in course enrollment guidance and academic college major selection.

Her two brothers and her sister were also collegiate scholarship athletes and college graduates. Her brother Kevin Beachum is in his fourth season with the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Her brothers and sister are also a part of the Student-Athletes Unite team.

Beachum Miller Photo
Krystal Beachum talks with attorney Alex Miller about choosing the correct legal entity for her business.

Before starting her business, Beachum attended a public seminar with the Walton College small business center entitled “Choosing the Proper Legal Entity.” The seminar was presented by a volunteer speaker, attorney Alex Miller of the law firm Reece, Moore and Pendergraft, LLP, of Fayetteville, Arkansas. After the seminar, Beachum sought the free services of Martha Londagin, business consultant at the center. Reece, Moore and Pendergraft, LLP, assisted Beachum at no charge in setting up her LLC and guiding her on how to operate this new legal entity.

“Krystal has one of the best backgrounds for starting a small business of any client I have seen,” Londagin said. “She has the personal life experiences, the collegiate experiences and the personality and drive to help her target consumers to prepare early on for their collegiate academic and sports careers. I am confident in her future success. Our center is also very appreciative of the community service Reece, Moore and Pendergraft, LLP, provides to our center each year.”

Learn more about Beachum and Student-Athletes Unite, LLC at studentathletesunite.com.

About the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center:  The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas has been serving the Northwest Arkansas community for more than 30 years. The center is part of a national network of more than 1,000 small business development center offices that provide training, research and consulting services to existing and potential business owners. The center network is the largest small business assistance program in the United States. The Walton College center operates as a regional office of the ASBTDC and is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration through a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Walton College. Any for-profit small business located or intending to locate in Northwest Arkansas may receive assistance from the center which provides services to businesses in the following counties: Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Marion, Newton, Searcy, and Washington. The ASBTDC serves all of Arkansas through UALR’s Little Rock-based lead center and six regional offices. Visit the Walton College ASBTDC website at sbtdc.uark.edu for more information on the center or the state network.

 

U of A Sweeps Graduate Places at Governor’s Cup Competition

April 20, 2016 – FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas teams swept all three places Tuesday in the graduate division at the 2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition.

Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup 2016 winners.
Photo by Beth Hall
From left: Cynthia Sides, David Zaharoff, Sean Smith, Drew McKinnon, Amy Hardwick, MJ Orellano, Carol Reeves, Corey Coston, Alan Ellstrand, Senior Associate Dean Anne O¹Leary-Kelly, and interim Dean Matt Waller.

VivImmune, a start-up biotechnology company that specializes in immunotherapy for bladder cancer, finished in first place and won $25,000. The company also won the AT&T Elevator Pitch Contest for $2,000 and the Delta Plastics Innovation Award for $5,000.

Actio Systems, which developed a patient reminder and intelligent rescheduling smartphone app for medical clinics and their patients, placed second and took home $15,000.

Third place and $10,000 went to deciLvl, a company using metamaterial research out of MIT to filter out harmful audio signals in noisy environments.

Read the full article in Newswire.