April 29, 2016
| Jessica Tellez (left) and Megan Hentschke (right) created Northwestern’s first team to enter the Donald W. Reynold’s Governor’s Cup competition.
Two seniors from Northwestern Oklahoma State University made it to the finals during the 2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competition, a statewide collegiate business plan competition that simulates the real world process of researching a market, writing a business plan and making a presentation to potential investors.
Upon the recommendation of Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, Dr. W. David Hawkins, assistant professor of business and the students’ sponsor and mentor, took the initiative to build a team from Northwestern’s business department to compete in the competition.
Business administration major Megan Hentschke, from Rocklin, California, partnered with another business administration major, Jessica Tellez, from Mission Viejo, California, to create the business plan for one of the three competition categories: undergraduate - small business.
The women named their small business “Fresh Fusion.” The plan called for a food truck where organic, healthy eating options made fresh-to-order would be available in Alva, Oklahoma. The plan had the potential to become an on-campus location and chain restaurant.
Hentschke and Tellez started their project in the fall of 2016. The two submitted their service plan in March 2016 and were selected from among 55 total submissions to compete against eight other teams in their category in the semi-finals.
“I was in awe; it was surreal,” Tellez said. “We worked extremely hard to prepare for the presentation.”
For the semi-finals, the Fresh Fusion team members gave an oral presentation of their well-rounded business plan to a panel of judges made up of bankers, loan officers, investors and former business owners.
After the semi-finals round was completed, Hentschke and Tellez were given feedback.
“We only had 20 minutes to present, and the judges had 15 minutes to ask questions about our project,” Hentschke said. “The judges would grill us to see if there were holes in our plans.”
A total of eight teams were whittled down to the final six teams; of the six only three teams received placings.
A week after the presentations, the awards ceremony and dinner were held. Cunningham and Dr. Steve Lohmann, executive vice president, attended the dinner with Hawkins, Tellez and Hentschke.
| Those attending the award ceremony of the 2016 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup competition included (left to right) Dr. Steve Lohmann, Megan Hentschke, Jessica Tellez and Dr. Janet Cunningham. Dr. W. David Hawkins also was in attendance but not pictured.
“I am extremely proud of the work of Jessica and Megan, along with the efforts of the business division faculty,” Cunningham said. “For a Northwestern team to reach the finals as a newcomer to the Governor’s Cup competition is extraordinary. I’m sure this accomplishment demonstrated to many businesses that hiring Northwestern graduates will pay big dividends.”
Although team Fresh Fusion didn’t place, Hentschke and Tellez were still thankful for getting as far as they did for it being the first time Northwestern attempted the competition.
“We didn’t place in the top three but being in the top six was still pretty exciting,” Hentschke said.
For their time and effort entering the competition, Hentschke and Tellez will receive a three-hour internship course credit from Northwestern.
“It’s defined as an internship because it was more hands-on; you do it yourself on your own time,” Tellez said. “Dr. Hawkins was helpful, but he never told us the exact answer. Instead, he would make us think about it and that was really beneficial because Megan and I were able to use all of the information and knowledge we gained over the past four years then apply it to something we created and believed would work.”
“Hawkins had us think of problems and asked what could we do to fix those problems and that’s where we started coming up with ideas,” Hentschke said about the process of making the business plan. “Dr. Hawkins would answer if we called him; we could meet him early morning or late at night to help us with questions. He helped us with the actual application of it, taking it from the classroom to real life.”
Since both Tellez and Hentschke are graduating seniors they cannot compete in next year’s competition but have returned to campus to encourage other students to be a part of the competition.
“For those interested in the Governor’s Cup I would definitely tell them to do it,” Tellez said. “It‘s a lot of work, but you learn so much. I learned a lot more doing the Governor’s Cup than I have … just reading out of a textbook.”
“I think it’s a good thing,” Hentschke said about entering the competition. “Juniors or sophomores even can start thinking about it, start building something and should enter into this because they could get a couple thousand dollars’ worth of scholarships. There’s also cash prizes, so if you made it to the second day you automatically get money and then first, second and third places get more money.”
This was the first attempt for Northwestern at the competition, but Hawkins doesn’t believe it will be the last.
“I wanted the students to be able to build that bridge between classroom-textbook theory to real-world application and they did,” Hawkins said. “For instance ‘if I give you $20,000 how much of a partner am I in your business?’ The competition was a dialogue instead of a grading and a critiquing.”
The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition is designed with the help of “Innovation to Enterprise,” also known as i2E, to encourage students of Oklahoma universities and colleges to act upon their entrepreneurial ideas and develop skills to lead tomorrow’s innovative new businesses.
Multi-disciplinary teams made up of undergraduate and graduate students from Oklahoma universities bring together the pieces necessary to bridge the gap between technology and the marketplace.
Students have the opportunity to hone their entrepreneurial skills and network with Oklahoma’s business leaders. They compete for $200,000 cash; $40,000 in fellowships and $15,000 in scholarships that could increase the number of high-tech businesses in the state.
The competition is open to faculty-sponsored, full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at any of Oklahoma’s universities or colleges. The business plan must be for a start-up or early-stage venture and must address the entire business concept including the implementation.
For more information on the Oklahoma Governor’s Cup Competition, visit i2e.org/gov-cup/.
For more information about joining Northwestern’s competition team contact Hawkins at (580) 327-8440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Northwestern’s Division of Business, contact Dr. Steven Palmer, department chair and professor of business, at (580) 327-8507 or email@example.com.