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UCO Students Win Top Awards in Love's Entrepreneurship Cup

Zoom screenshot of participants at an award ceremony

May 5, 2021

Media Contact: Sarah Ward, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, UCO University Communications, 405-974-2106, sward24@uco.edu

 

UCO Students Win Top Awards in Love's Entrepreneurship Cup

University of Central Oklahoma students celebrated success at the Oklahoma Love's Entrepreneur Cup Business Plan Competition, taking home first- and second-place finishes at the virtual event held in April. 

The annual contest is a statewide collegiate entrepreneurial competition, managed by Oklahoma-based Innovation to Enterprise (i2E), that simulates the real-world process of researching a market, writing a business plan and making a presentation to potential investors. Teams are encouraged to use prize money and other opportunities provided by i2E to continue product development and start a company.          Four students from Central's School of Design brought home first place in the Small Business Division.

The team, Amidad, includes Esther Velasco, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; Nichole Burroughs, a graphic design major from Edmond, Oklahoma;  Sofia Arenas, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; and, Ashley Guerrero, a junior graphic design major from Piedmont, Oklahoma. The team is advised by Amy Johnson, M.F.A., director of the UCO School of Design and McKenna Sanderson, M.F.A., assistant professor of design at Central. Velasco served as team leader.

Amidad is an app-based concept that provides undocumented immigrants and refugees with guides on understanding their legal rights during arrests, as well as a device to summon help if confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs officers.

The team brought home $11,000 total in prize money. In addition to Amidad's success, Central's team, Hamkke, an application that helps parents or guardians talk to children about sex education, providing sex education that is intuitive, interactive and age-appropriate, won second place in the Small Business Division.

Team members include team leader Nhi Pham, a graphic design major from Vietnam; Marissa Perez, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; and, Emily Falls, a senior graphic design major from Edmond, Oklahoma. The team took home $9,000 in total prize money and is advised by Johnson and Sanderson.

Additionally, the Empowering Natives team won first place in the BankFirst Small Business Interview Division, taking home $2,000. The team focused on developing a series of large greenhouses on Native American lands that will help eliminate food deserts on reservations and bring health, hope and independence to Native Americans.

The Empowering Natives team is comprised of Sonya Mueller, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; Alexis Dickens, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; and, Hayden Rogers, a junior graphic design major from Oklahoma City.

"We are so proud of our School of Design students. All of the teams faced unique challenges, innovated to solve problems and were tireless in their preparation," Johnson said. 

In addition to the success of the students from Central's School of Design, students within Central's College of Business also placed.

Central's Pick Pro team won second place in the High Growth Graduate Division in addition to winning the interview in the manufacturing, material sciences and transportation category. Team members include team leader Ruth Davis, an MBA student from Edmond, Oklahoma; Mark Steele, an MBA student from Edmond, Oklahoma; Drake Cartwright, a marketing and professionals sales major and entrepreneurship minor from Prior Lake, Minnesota; and, Mattie England, a finance major and banking minor from Piedmont, Oklahoma. Maurice Haff, Barnabas Endowed Lecturer of entrepreneurship and innovation at Central, served as team adviser.

Pick Pro markets a patented light duty electric cargo vehicle that reduces time and expense for shipping fulfillment centers by enhancing productivity in picking, packing and shipping functions. The team took home $12,000 in prize money.

Additionally, Regan McCarthick, a strategic communications and organizational communications major and entrepreneurship minor from Edmond, Oklahoma, won the Cox Communication Pitch competition taking home a $2,000 cash prize. McCarthick is part of the Pristine Clean Sanitizing Services team, which delivers medical-grade sanitation services.

"The Love's Cup continues to provide our students with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the world of startup ventures," Haff said.

"The skills and understanding our students gain are unsurpassed in any other educational setting. The support provided by Love's, i2E and all of the sponsors is fostering development of the next generation of entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. The return on this investment will be significant."

Throughout the 17-year history of the competition, formerly known as the Donald W. Reynolds Governor's Cup, $2.1 million in cash has been awarded, and more than 2,500 students have competed. This year's competition awarded $158,000 in cash prizes and scholarships. 

Innovation to Enterprise, the competition's facilitator, is a nationally recognized, private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1998 that focuses on growing innovative small businesses in Oklahoma. Its mission is investing in entrepreneurs to build successful high-growth companies in Oklahoma and making a positive impact on the state's economy.

To learn more about the Love's Cup, visit www.i2e.org/loves-cup.

For more information about Central, visit www.uco.edu

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Editor's Note: Download art associated with this release at https://media.uco.edu/press/uploads/2021/04/love-s-cup-team-amidad.jpg

Cutline: University of Central Oklahoma students celebrated success at the Oklahoma Love's Entrepreneur Cup Business Plan Competition, taking home first- and second-place finishes at the virtual event held in April. Team Amidad brought home first place in the Small Business Division. Pictured top to bottom, left to right, Amidad team members include Ashley Guerrero, a junior graphic design major from Piedmont, Oklahoma; Esther Velasco, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; Sofia Arenas, a senior graphic design major from Oklahoma City; Nichole Burroughs, a graphic design major from Edmond, Oklahoma; Amy Johnson, M.F.A., director of the UCO School of Design and team adviser; and, McKenna Sanderson, M.F.A., assistant professor of design at Central and team adviser.