Central Baptist College students place in the Arkansas Governor’s Cup Competition

by Dr. Kateryna Pitchford, Associate Professor of Business

For the first time in Central Baptist College history, a team of students, along with a faculty advisor, competed in the Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition. The team competed in the Small Business Division and were one of six finalists in this division who participated in the 2021 Virtual Awards Presentation with a Live Elevator Pitch Competition on April 8. Students Colton Ryan and Daniel Hopp were awarded second place in their division and a cash award of $10,000. “What a tremendous accomplishment for these two young men and for the Central Baptist College Department of Business,” said CBC President Terry Kimbrow. 

Colton Ryan (from left), Dr. Kateryna Pitchford and Daniel Hopp.

Ryan and Hopp, along with faculty advisor Dr. Kateryna Pitchford, represented the CBC Department of Business by submitting and pitching a business plan to be judged by business leaders from across the state in the annual competition.  Ryan and Hopp formed a start-up called “Christ Light,” an apparel company concept that offers a wide range of apparel products preprinted with the John 3:16 verse affixed, or they allow customers to choose their favorite verse to be added to products like hats and shirts. The goal is for the customer to use the items as an icebreaker to discuss Jesus and their Christian faith with others. While still a start-up concept, Christ Light has already sold over 300 items across several states. Ryan and Hopp also plan to donate 10 percent of net sales profits to Abba Adoption, a Christian faith-based full-service domestic adoption agency located in Benton. 

“The Governor’s Cup competition was a very eye opening, almost real-world experience for us,” said Hopp. “It was an honor for sure and when we hear our name called at number two, there was some relief, some excitement, and some joy. I honestly felt like I could run a marathon at that moment I was so fired up.”

Ryan added, “I am really proud of the team we put together for this competition. Daniel and I were able to apply the skills we learned at CBC over the past four years. Winning always feels good, so for us to get the job done and finish second in the state of Arkansas was a huge honor. A big thank you to the Business Department at CBC because without them we would have never gotten to this point.” 

Their faculty advisor applauds their effort. “Colton and Daniel are both outstanding students with passion and business knowledge,” said Associate Professor of Business Dr. Kateryna Pitchford. “They were able to accept feedback and incorporate it into their business plan, presentation, and elevator speech to make their business idea easy to comprehend and have a strong appeal.”

The Central Baptist College team was one of the six finalists in the Small Business Division, which also included teams from the University of Arkansas, Arkansas Tech University, and the Arkansas School for Math, Sciences, and the Arts. The Small Business Division is for business plans that are “main street.” These are customer-facing operations such as retail, hospitality, or services. Over $100,000 in awards were given out across two divisions of competition, the Small Business Division and a High Growth/Technology Division. The top three finishers in each division, as well as for individual performance in the elevator pitch competition, received cash prizes.

Ryan is a senior accounting major from Bossier City, La. He is a member of the CBC Golf team and the Simple Church of Shreveport, La. Hopp is a senior accounting major from Conway. He is currently the Operational Accountant at Tacos for Life and is a member of Antioch Baptist Church. Both men will graduate in May 2021.

About the Arkansas Governor’s Cup Competition: According to their website, “The Governor’s Cup is designed to increase student appreciation for the challenges that come with developing a viable business offering. Through a real-world and rigorous competitive process, the Governor’s Cup recognizes those students best able to articulate a plan that addresses these challenges. Competitors learn about the new venture creation process through their team’s efforts, their work with faculty, and the development of written plans and oral presentations to judges.”