Students Bo Cunningham & Ally Loter Win Governor’s Cup, Team Led by I&E Prof. Duggins

Yesterday, business students Bo Cunningham and Ally Loter, led by faculty sponsor Dr. Ron Duggins, claimed first place in the Small Business Competition at the Arkansas Governor’s Cup in Little Rock. As part of their win, they earned a ten thousand dollar prize. The team represents only the third all-UCA finalists in the competition’s nearly 25-year history.

pictured: I&E Professor Dr. Ron Duggins, Ally Loter, Bo Cunningham, and Dr. Tracy Suter, UCA Chair of Marketing & Management

“The Arkansas Governor’s Cup was a phenomenal way to speak with other likeminded, entrepreneurial spirited people while being able to take a deep dive into my business by developing both a 10+ page business plan and a pitch. We also were able to receive great feedback from a wonderful panel of judges,” Cunningham stated. “It was so encouraging to see this many people come together, in the name of entrepreneurship, in our great state of Arkansas!”

Loter echoed that she enjoyed seeing so many other entrepreneurial students from Arkansas and surrounding states. She added, “it was empowering to see how devoted many major Arkansas businesses and business leaders are to providing both financially and physically to helping make this event happen.”

The small business that Cunningham and Loter presented at the competition involves Arkansas REM (Arkansas Real Estate Media, LLC), which performs real estate photography, videography, and drone work in both Central and Northwest Arkansas.

Proud of his students’ win, Duggins said, “this competition brings together in a real world event all of the thinking and doing skills that are taught in UCA’s Entrepreneurship major and minor. Beginning with creative thinking and ending with a real business plan and professional pitch, Ally and Bo have exemplified how our students are equipped to move into a startup of their own or take their entrepreneurship skills into an existing business.” In addition to sponsoring this team, Dr. Duggins is an Associate Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) in the UCA College of Business and teaches New Venture Creation and Small Business Management, among other courses.

Arkansas Capital launched the Governor’s Cup over two decades ago to encourage college students to be innovative and think like entrepreneurs. As part of the rigorous competition, students are immersed into what it takes to launch a startup from the ground up, and they get feedback from judges who are successful entrepreneurs, small business owners, and current or former large corporation executives.

Dr. Tracy Suter, Chair of the UCA Marketing and Management Department and Marketing Professor, was also present to celebrate the team’s award. “The Arkansas Governor’s Cup, like entrepreneurial endeavors themselves, changed and evolved this year.  Student teams from border states were welcomed with both Oklahoma and Mississippi teams present.  Student teams from two-year institutions were also welcomed so the competition was tougher than ever,” said Suter. “Even so, Bo and Ally represented Arkansas REM and UCA very well as evidenced by winning the small business category.  We are happy for these risk-takers and change-makers.  We know that their fellow UCA Innovation and Entrepreneurship students were fully behind them.”

Keep a lookout for these movers and shakers who are making an impact in our state even before graduation. We can’t wait to see what they do next.