Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

May 2014

ECU Teams Excel in Statewide Entrepreneurship Competition

ECU's Governor's cup winners.

East Central University’s “LockWall” team poses with their trophies after capturing second place in the Governor’s Cup, a statewide entrepreneurship competition held recently in Oklahoma City. From left to right are: Sara Folsom, of Wayne; Cameron King, of Ada; Stacey Bolin, director of ECU’s Wilburn L. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship; Brandon Holt, of Ada and team leader; and Chase Sheffield, of Ada. Sheffield also won first place in the pitch competition.

Two teams of East Central University students excelled and brought home $13,000 in cash prizes from the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup at a recent statewide entrepreneurship competition April 4-5 in Oklahoma City.

Under the leadership of Stacey Bolin, instructor and director of ECU’s Wilburn L. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship, both ECU teams reached the final round of six as one team claimed second place.

ECU’s “LockWall," a team consisting of leader Brandon Holt, of Ada; along with team members Sara Folsom, of Wayne; Cameron King, of Ada; and Chase Sheffield, of Ada, was awarded second place in the Small Business Division and a cash prize of $8,000. Sheffield garnered a first-place award in the pitch competition and a $1,000 prize. To view Sheffield’s winning pitch online go to https://vimeo.com/i2e/review/91551385/e9d1fc1ab4.

The other ECU team, “Business Inventory Solutions,” with team leader Andrea Nuzzolillo of Valencia, Venezuela, and team member Colton Nohelty of Haileyville, earned a spot in the final six of the Small Business Division.

The idea for “LockWall” came from Holt, who has a friend in the construction business in Williston, N.D. Due to the harsh and hazardous winters in that part of the country, construction is limited during that time of the year. In fact at times it comes to a standstill. So the idea of a panel system of construction came to the forefront.

“I always had in the back of my mind that there’s got to be a better way of doing construction. So we developed a modular type system to replace traditional construction methods,” Holt said. “It’s pre-manufactured panels that can be manufactured indoors instead of shipping individual components to the jobsite. It’s the consolidation of a lot of parts and pieces indoors, which gives us the ability to continue construction even though we are not on location.”

Even Holt himself was a little skeptical in the beginning, because it was a simple concept, but with encouragement from King, the project was pursued.

“In my mind, to me, it was very simple. Someone should have thought of this before. But we researched it and there was nothing like it on the market,” Holt said. “Cameron did a financial and feasibility study.”

The result, according to King, was 85 percent quicker construction times.

“We can build a 10,000-square-foot facility in two weeks, versus two, three or four months that it takes with traditional methods of construction. That’s a benefit to everyone,” King said.

Many industries can benefit from “LockWall,” according to Holt.

“It will benefit a lot of people that require a quick construction solution, especially in the oil and gas industry,” said Holt. “Oil and gas in North Dakota is projected to be an $800 billion industry by 2017, and southwestern Oklahoma is expected to see a boom in the coming years.”

The fast-food industry could also benefit from this, according to King.

“In our research we saw that an average McDonald’s (restaurant) could clear as much as $200,000 in the first month of business, and we can build a McDonald’s in two days. Time sensitivity is what it’s all about,” said King.

The Governor’s Cup competition actually started in March when all teams, throughout the state, provided a written business plan. The field was narrowed down to the semifinals, consisting of eight teams. Each team delivered 20-minute presentations and 90-second pitches during both the semifinal and final rounds. The competition was cut down to six as both ECU teams reached the finals. There were more than 50 judges for the event, some for the written and others for the oral presentations and different judges for each round, according to Bolin.

More than 1,350 students from 31 Oklahoma campuses have participated in the nine years of the Governor’s Cup, writing business plans around nearly 450 innovative ideas and competing for more than $1.4 million in cash awards, scholarships and fellowships.

This was only the second year in which ECU teams have been involved in the competition.

Providing support to Bolin and the ECU teams was Bridget Forshay, director of the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center, and Sandra Stevenson, Oklahoma Small Business Development Center in ECU’s Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business.

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