Competition Rules

2017 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition

Rules for the 2017 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Competition was last updated February 25, 2017. Please read carefully and note these rules are subject to change.

Official Rules and Submission Requirements

The Organizing Committee cannot anticipate every circumstance, and the Organizing Committee reserves the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations or spirit of the competition. All decisions by the Organizing Committee are final.

Who Can Enter?

1. The competition is open to all faculty or mentor-sponsored full and part-time degree or certificate-seeking undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at any Nevada university or college. Enrollment includes classes taken during the 2016 summer session(s), 2016 fall semester, and/or the 2017 spring semester. Students who have graduated prior to the competition but were enrolled in any of the above mentioned semesters will still be eligible to compete. We rely on the student and his or her advisor to verify enrollment criteria. The Organizing Committee reserves the exclusive right to determine the validity of enrollment.

2. Either an individual or a group may develop the business plan. Group size cannot exceed six qualified students. The management team outlined in the plan will contain the names of individuals (if any) who are not associated with the university. Presenting group members must be students and have a key role on the company’s management team (i.e., CEO, COO, VP, etc.). Non-student members of the venture’s management team may not participate in any presentations, including the finals.

3. Teams are encouraged to have graduate and undergraduate students work together on teams for the purpose of cross-pollination of experience and mentoring opportunities. Teams with any one member enrolled in graduate school during the academic year must enter in the graduate competition. The Organizing Committee reserves the exclusive right to determine the category in which a student or team competes.

4. Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant. By participating in the competition, entrants agree that neither the Organizing Committee nor members of the judging panel, sponsors nor their designate organizations, assume any liability whatsoever for any disclosures of business plan information which may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the competition.

5. All teams wishing to compete in the 2017 Governor’s Cup competition must submit a “Registration Form” by midnight on February 17, 2017 at

6. Each team may submit only one business plan to the competition. An individual student may be the team captain of only one team, and the Organizing Committee strongly discourages students from participating on more than one team.

7. For the purposes of public recognition and cash prizes, each team must name individual team members and an advisor at the time of registration.

Who CAN’T Enter

8. Any student who has been disqualified for plagiarism or other serious rule violation from the Governor’s Cup or any other business plan competition.


9. Each team is required to have either a faculty member or an approved mentor as an advisor. If a team wishes to utilize a non-faculty mentor, that team must request approval from the Organizing Committee by January 31, 2017 and must submit documentation proving that each student team member meets the requirements of Rule #1.

10. The business plan may be prepared under faculty or mentor supervision for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. The plan may also be prepared under faculty or mentor supervision with no official credit. In any case, the team members must meet the requirements in Rule #1.

11. For the purposes of public recognition and cash prizes, each team must designate one person as that team’s official advisor.

12. The entire business plan must represent the original work of each student contestant and must have been created by the students after May 1, 2016. Each submission indicates that the business plan is the original work of the author(s). Content from other sources may be used if 1) less than 250 words and 2) properly annotated.

13. Any team submitting a plagiarized business plan will be disqualified from the 2017 Governor’s Cup and from any future business plan competitions conducted by the Organizing Committee. The Organizing Committee reserves the right to utilize the internet and software to check for plagiarism.

Original Work

14. The advisor for each team must affirm – prior to February 27, 2017 – that they are 1) actively involved in supervising the plan’s preparation, and 2) the plan represents the original work of the student team members.

15. The author(s) will retain all rights to the plan regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated in these rules.

What Kinds of Business Plans May Be Submitted?

16. The business plan must be for a new and independent venture in the seed, start-up, or early-growth stages.

17.  Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been commercialized previously. The business may assume a technology or product/service that has been licensed from another company, private inventor, or university with their written approval.

What Kinds of Business Plans or Content May NOT Be Submitted?

18. Business plans based on an existing business, or a spin-off of an existing business, are not eligible.

19. Previous efforts to establish the business or participating in business-like activities which include but are not limited to the following: attempts to raise capital, developing and presenting the business plan to potential investors are not eligible.

20.  The business should not have received more than $200,000 in equity-related capital (such as seed capital or institutional funding), or generated more than $100,000 in gross revenue prior to the current academic year.  Revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be excluded from this provision.

21.  Plans that include proposals for buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, spin-outs from existing corporations, and other consulting projects or analyses are not eligible.

22. Plans for nonprofit businesses are not eligible.

23. Business plans, substantially similar business plans, or substantially similar business concepts that were selected as finalists in any category in previous Governor’s Cup competitions are not eligible.

24. The business must not have generated sales revenues prior to the competition. Small amounts of revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be allowable.

25. The plans may not contain fabricated information about (but not limited to) the following: backgrounds, experience and educational level of members of the management team, stage of product development, product performance claims, or market survey results.

26. Business plans with revenue streams based solely on licensing of its own goods or services to a third-party.

How to Enter Your Business Plan

27. An electronic copy of the business plan must be uploaded online in Startup Compete by 3:00 pm (PST) on March 9, 2017. Each student is responsible for verifying that his or her business plan was received by the Organizing Committee prior to the deadline.

28. Plans must be submitted as a single PDF file not to exceed 10MB. Files submitted in other formats such as Word will NOT be accepted. (Free PDF converters are available online.)

Lt. Governor’s Cup Awards Competition

29. To enter the optional Lt. Governor’s Award Competition for the best energy-related business plan, the team captain must – on the Business Plan Upload page – 1) check the box marked “Please enter my business plan in the Lt. Governor’s Award Competition” and 2) submit a brief explanation (50 words maximum) of why your business plan best employs clean, renewable or efficient energy technologies and services.

What Should the Business Plan Include?

30. Plans are limited to a maximum of 30 pages, including the Executive Summary and excluding the Cover Page, Table of Contents, and Appendices. Pages beyond this limit will be omitted from judging.

31. Business plans should follow the format identified in the Judging Criteria.

32. Summary of financial data should include a five year pro-forma cash flow statement, income statement and balance sheet. Include an explanation to investors of how much capital will be required in the first and future rounds of investment, how funds from the first round will be used, and what milestones will be met using first round of funding. Delineate possible exit strategies and identify companies or categories of companies for which this company might be an attractive acquisition candidate in future years. Business plans may include the expected ROI for investors and the proposed structure of the deal, i.e., loan, preferred A stock, convertible note, etc.

33.  Appendices should be included only when they support the findings, statements, and observations in the plan.  Because of the number of teams/plans entering the competition, reviewers and judges may not be able to read all of the material in the appendices. Therefore, the text portion of the plan (30 pages) must contain all pertinent information in a clear and concise manner.

34.  Plans must be typed in Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman with a 10- or 12-point font size. Page margins must be one inch. Paragraphs must be double-spaced. Pages must be numbered.

Oral Presentations

35. Oral Presentations will be held in Reno at the Atlantis on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

36. The Organizing Committee will provide an LCD projector with a VGA connection. Teams must provide their own laptops, connectors, software, speakers and Internet access. The Organizing Committee is not responsible for compatibility with the LCD projectors.

37. For semi-finalist and finalist presentations, each team will be given twenty (20) minutes to present their business plan followed by a fifteen (15) minute question and-answer session between the presenting team and the panel of judges. After competing, each team will receive a ten (10) minute feedback round from the semifinal and final judges. Each presenting team will have five (5) minutes prior to its presentation for set-up/preparation and five (5) minutes after the presentation for equipment dismantling.

38. A team’s students and faculty advisor may not observe other presentations or question and answer sessions until after they have presented their own plan. No one is allowed to enter or leave the room until the presentation session is complete. Students, advisors, or guests engaging in communication with a team during their presentation and/or question and answer session, such as but not limited to, head movements, hand gestures or signaling, will be asked to leave the room and the team will be disqualified from the competition.

39. All oral presentations and question and answer sessions are open to the public at large. Further, it is likely that any or all of these public sessions will be broadcast to interested persons through media, which may include radio, television and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions. Neither the Organizing Committee, judges, sponsors, nor their designate organizations, assume any duty to screen or otherwise control the identity of those attending, viewing or hearing all or part of these public sessions, and entrants agree that by entering the competition they have been made aware that such attendees, viewers and recipients may include members of the media and potential competitors in addition to members of the financial community, students and faculty.

40. Student entrants agree to allow the Organizing Committee to videotape and photograph the oral presentations and the question-and-answer sessions. By participating in the competition, student entrants agree to grant the Organizing Committee and/or organizations designated by them the unlimited right to videotape, photograph, audiotape, transcribe or otherwise record all public sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations and question-and-answer sessions.

41. All entrants agree that the Organizing Committee and/or their designate organizations may use any such transcriptions and/or recording(s) (in whole or part) for such publicity and marketing purposes as their organizations may see fit, including those which may result in remuneration.

42. Team members will not be allowed to bring food, beverages or live animals into the presentations rooms. Students may bring product samples for their presentations, but may not bring any promotional items or give-aways to the judges. Paper materials for the judges are allowed but not required.

Awards Presentation

43. The first, second and third place award winning graduate and undergraduate teams, and the Lt. Governor’s Award winning team will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the Atlantis in Reno, NV, on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

44. The first and second undergraduate and graduate teams will advance to the Tri-State competition in Las Vegas, NV. In the event an advancing team cannot participate to the satisfaction of the Organizing Committee, the third place team will act as an alternate.

Cash Prizes

45. Each cash prize will be divided equally and made out to the names of the team members identified during registration AFTER the team captain has provided the Organizing Committee with a properly completed W-9 and EFT form for each team member. In the case where dividing the cash prize equally among team members results in fractions of cents, the team captain’s check will be adjusted.

46. Team captains may request that a check be issued in the name of company, provided that the team captain provides 1) 30 days written notice, and 2) provides a W-9 which includes the company’s Federal Taxpayer ID number.

47. Checks will be issued by May 30, 2017. Team captains and members are encouraged to consult their tax advisor regarding taxation issues.

48.Each faculty cash prize will be presented in a SINGLE check made out in the name of the faculty advisor.

49. There are NO exceptions to these rules.

Kendra Wong
Chair, Organizing Committee
Sierra Nevada College
(775) 881-1733