ADA – For the ninth consecutive year, students in East Central University’s Entrepreneurship program have made a big splash at the annual statewide Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition – further strengthening ECU’s argument as Oklahoma’s premier business school.
ECU students took home $14,000 in prize money from the 2021 Love’s Cup contest, bringing the University’s nine-year winnings total to $154,000 – an astounding accomplishment for a school of any size. Dr. Stacey Bolin, the director of ECU’s Wilburn L. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship, makes sure students are more than ready for these tough competitions.
“In our Entrepreneurship program, we combine classroom learning with real-world experience in multiple ways,” Bolin said. “Our students work very hard to prepare for these competitions and I couldn’t be prouder of their performances.”
The pageantry and excitement of the annual Love’s Cup awards ceremony was missing for a second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with ceremonies occurring online once again. That doesn’t make success taste any less sweet, however.
In the Small Business division, ECU’s Lynsey Bonner and Megan Boyles won the Interview competition in the Service category for their all-inclusive venue idea “Swift and Sweet Events.” Their overall project idea advanced to the finals, ultimately earning third-place honors in the Small Business division. The team won a total of $6,000 in prize money. Individually, Bonner won the Pitch competition and she also earned the Oklahoma Business Roundtable’s Paulsen Scholarship, adding $6,000 more to her Love’s Cup winnings.
Joining the “Swift and Sweet Events” team as the second of ECU’s two finalists was the team of Joel Nalere, Enoch Vuppula and Cody Tharp with the Service category idea called “Small Town Services.” Their idea was for an app-based solution to connect people in small towns with those who provide services such as grocery shopping, yard work, tutoring and more. The team earned $1,000 for being named one of the Small Business division’s eight finalists.
Rounding out ECU’s 2021 Love’s Cup winners was Zachary Burgherr, who won $1,000 in the interview competition in the Retail category of the Small Business division for his namesake idea for a cannabis lounge and restaurant called “Burgherr and Buds.”
The Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup is a collegiate business plan competition open to students on any Oklahoma campus. Students take what they have learned in a classroom setting and apply it to real-world opportunities as they assemble teams, identify products, research markets, formulate financial projections and create business plans. The real competition comes when teams pitch their concepts to a panel of potential investors.
Wendell Godwin, dean of the ECU Stonecipher School of Business, praised the students and the continued success of the Wilburn L. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship.
“The Center for Entrepreneurship was created by Carol Smith to honor her late husband,” Godwin said. “The funding and focus provided by the center has allowed Dr. Bolin to grow our overall Entrepreneurship degree and attract amazing students from around the state. We are all very proud of this winning streak, which has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with the hard work and preparation of Dr. Bolin and our incredibly bright students.”
Cutline: The team of Megan Boyles, left, and Lynsey Bonner, pictured here at the annual ECU Stonecipher School of Business Awards Banquet, took home third place in the Small Business division of the statewide Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup competition for their idea “Swift and Sweet Events.” (ECU/Galen Hawes)