Ole Cup


The Ole Cup is an annual student entrepreneurial competition conceived by Brad Cleveland ‘82. The competition, which is open to all St. Olaf students, is on Saturday, May 2, 2015, following Honors Day. The grand prize winner(s) receives $7,000, and is paired with alumni and parent mentors to receive pro-bono legal, accounting, HR, and other services to support the business for up to one year. The second prize winner(s) receives $5,000 and the third place, $3,000. There will be an additional award of $5,000 for the best social venture. The winner of the Ole Cup automatically qualifies for the semi-final round of the Minnesota Cup student division where the winner (of the student division) is awarded $30,000, and can compete for the Minnesota Cup Grand Prize of $50,000.

Roberto Zayas, the Associate Director for Entrepreneurship at the Piper Center will work closely with outside organizations and programs, such as the Minnesota Cup, and Twin Cities business publications and blogs to provide access and exposure for the winning Ole Cup team.

Want to learn more about the history of the Ole Cup? Read this St. Olaf news article.

View last year’s participants, including winners and judges.

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    2015 Ole Cup Participants

    Who’s Missing?: Adrian Rossing ’15

    Members and directors of touring groups all know the logistical nightmares associated with ensuring a large ensemble are all present when traveling on a tight schedule. Who’s Missing? Is a mobile solution that provides group leaders with logistics solutions by eliminating communication chaos. The application allows users to “check-in”, receive real-time schedule updates, and communicate with other travelers, while group leaders can ensure that their members are accounted for. All touring organizations will benefit from Who’s Missing?, a solid solution to problems among traveling groups on the go.

    bloom: Kirsten Schowalter ’15, Liz Brindley ’15, Jay Carlson ’15, David Hastings ’14, CJ Urnes ’15, Kelsey Daly ’14

    bloom, a social venture, is an initiative that brings attention to the creative process through an intentional omnidisciplinary approach in the way we do, learn, and live. bloom was founded at St. Olaf College two years ago, and now wants to expand to similar schools across the country. bloom supports a core group of students at undergraduate campuses who cultivate new approaches and facilitate collaborative events to help individuals develop the creative skills necessary to tackle the complex problems that do, and will, face their generations.

    Campus Klips: Timothy E. Joseph ’16, Leonard F. Vibbi ’17, Jaylen Jones ’16, Zareef Kamal ’18

    Campus Klips will be a haircut/styling business that will provide students on residential college campuses with high quality, professional haircuts at an affordable price. With an on campus location, Campus Klips will provide college students ease of access and convenience for highly demanded hair care services. In a voice of consumer survey conducted on St. Olaf College campus, 95% of 113 students surveyed, indicated they would prefer this form of service on campus; similar to what is available in downtown Northfield. Campus Klips will enhance student bonding and community building in colleges by providing a social platform for student interaction.

    Papa Theo’s Fish Farm: Onyemauchechukwu J. Nwigwe ’18

    Nigeria imports 900,000 metric tons of fish annually to meet a shortfall of 1.8 million tons. Our company plans to meet that demand. We produce Catfish; a nutritious, delicious, delicacy Nigerians enjoy. Our aim is achieving economic success by sustainably developing our farms, achieving both economic growth and human development. The foundation of our company is to rear this fish from eggs to market, utilizing aquaculture practices. Papa Theo’s Fish Farm sits in the launching pad for scalable commercialization, we have the talent, expertise and we have the passion, we are looking for a partner to help make this vision a reality.

    Sirius: Partik Štefek ’18, Jevrem Leverda ’18, Nayar Valente ’15

    Sirius Inc. is a St. Olaf-based company that commits itself to providing high quality and affordable services. The company’s goal is to r educe the amount of time people spend waiting for an open bathroom facility by using in-house developed software which displays the nearest facility and its occupancy. Music festivals, public venues, sports events, shopping malls, hotels, or any other small businesses will greatly benefit from Sirius. We expect to generate profit from entities that strive to provide their customers with a higher standard of service.

    Chancify: Ashley Belisle ’15, Casey Bouldin ’15, Abdi Musse ’15, Conor Burke ’16

    Millions of students apply to college every year without knowing their acceptance chances or what to look for. Chancify is the only available resource for students at all stages of the college application process. We offer the following:

    • Database search suggests a list of possible colleges
    • Uses student-entered data to predict that student’s chances of acceptance
    • Feedback tells students how to improve overall application

    The company defines its market as college-bound high school juniors and seniors. Chancify’s start-up costs are predominantly Web development costs and legal fees to develop contracts between the owners and with the customers, totaling approximately $14,000.

    Farming Forward: Kate Seybold ’15, Nora Flynn ’15

    Agriculture represents a significant portion of Minnesota’s economy and landscape. The detrimental effects of agriculture on our environment are well documented. While many farmers are concerned about that state of our environment, some are hesitant to adopt sustainable practices without evidence of how they may influence profitability. Environmental problems associated with agriculture need to be addressed in a way that prioritizes farmers’ livelihoods. Farming Forward will work directly with agricultural and environmental organizations, farmers, and landowners to conduct on-farm research evaluating the current conditions of farms, and the potential for new agriculture techniques to be both environmentally and economically sustainable.

    Qopo: Charlie Johnson ’16, Jesse Landa ’16, Ben Le Cam ’16, Lars Midthun ’16

    Our everyday lives are filled with small details that can affect our mood, and eventually alter our health. At Qopo, we strive to build smart devices to improve people’s quality of life. We promote a modern lifestyle through connected objects. We want to make our user’s lives better, richer and happier. We believe that a great day starts from the moment you get out of bed. Our first provisional patented product changes the way you wake up.

    Foggy Ridge Farm: Max Wolfram ’15, Jared Britson ’15

    Jared Britson and Max Wolfram have partnered, under business agreement, with Foggy Ridge LLC in Washington State to make an Aronia berry pudding, for consumption by people seeking healthier living styles. The popular berry is native to the Midwest and has recently been deemed a healthy super fruit for its high antioxidant levels by the Wall Street Journal. The pudding, Aronia Bliss, is our entrant into this growing industry and is very high in antioxidants, has a long shelf life, would not need refrigeration, and has nutritious value. We feel this could be packaged as the next healthy and convenient grab and go shelf-stable product.

    Ole Thrift Shop: Corey Rudder ’16, Lisa Swanson ’16, Simon Scholten ’16, Benjamin Swenson-Klatt ’16, Mary Catherine Davidson ’17

    St. Olaf College promotes an environmentally friendly lifestyle, but lacks a venue for students to effortlessly donate their gently used possessions that would normally end up in landfills. Grounded in environmental and ethical values, the Ole Thrift Shop dedicates itself to increase the sustainability of the St. Olaf campus by collecting donated goods and reselling them for affordable prices annually. In the fall of 2013, Ole Thrift Shop earned a profit of around $6,000, doubling the investment and predicted returns. The success of Ole Thrift Store proves that St. Olaf students eagerly embrace innovative, sustainable businesses.

    R.E.D. Foods: Katie Myhre ’16, Malika Dale ’16, Annie Nguyen ’16, Camille Morley ’15

    The lack of efficient transaction and produce distribution systems in Minnesota hinders the growing Twin Cities local food industry. R.E.D. Foods is an online marketplace and distribution system that connects local sustainable farmers to local restaurant buyers by aggregating the volume of multiple small-scale farms while preserving the individuality that characterizes small-scale sustainable agriculture. Our innovative transaction and distribution system decreases logistic and transportation costs and price of local food and increases the agricultural and restaurant revenue that stays in Minnesota. Our electronic interface delivers financial transactions with a streamlined distribution system that minimizes the shipping carbon footprint and ultimately contributes to a financially viable and transparent food system.

    EarthCure: Joshua Wolf ’18

    South Africa currently has the highest level of income inequality and is worsening because of environmental degradation. EarthCure funds innovative agricultural development projects by being the first non-profit to commercially produce biodiesel. Biodiesel can readily be produced from sunflower oil, and is extremely cost competitive with standard diesel fuel, with a $0.70/gallon margin. Agricultural development projects use low-cost rustic designs to ensure their long-term economic sustainability. Once communities are beyond subsistence production, they may sell and consume goods in a cooperative market set-up by EarthCure, which is aimed at increasing purchasing power and liberalizing trade.

    The Schedule

    Welcome & Registration

    8:30 a.m. – Coffee and pastries (Buntrock Crossroads)

    Business Pitches in Viking Theater (Buntrock Commons)

    9:05 a.m. – Who’s Missing?

    9:15 a.m. – bloom

    9:25 a.m. – Campus Klips

    9:35 a.m. – Papa Theo’s Fish Farm

    9:45 a.m. – Sirius

    9:55 a.m. – Chancify

    10:05 a.m. – Break

    10:15 a.m. – Farming Forward

    10:25 a.m. – Qopo

    10:35 a.m. – Foggy Ridge Farms

    10:45 a.m. – Ole Thrift Shop

    10:55 a.m. – R.E.D. Foods

    11:05 a.m. – EarthCure

    Meet the Students (Buntrock Crossroads)

    11:15 a.m. – Reception in Buntrock Crossroads to meet the students pitching

    Lunch & Awards Ceremony in the Sun Ballroom (Buntrock Commons 3rd floor)

    11:45 a.m. –  Keynote by David Rose ‘89, CEO Ditto Labs and MIT Media Lab

    1:00 p.m. – Event concludes


    Judging Process

    Applicants will be evaluated using the following criteria, as outlined in the Ole Cup Final Judging Rubric

    • Innovation: An idea can be for a product or service and can be an entirely new idea or the evolution of a previous idea. Ideas that show the greatest innovation will be viewed more favorably.
    • Viability: Can this idea be commercialized within two years? Can this idea create or serve a market need? What is the applicant’s strategy for making the idea financially sustainable? Judges will evaluate ideas on their potential to generate revenue, profits and employment.
    • Quality of Presentation: Ensure that all content is well written and clear. As the competition progresses, quality of presentation will factor in more substantially.


    Judges Ole Cup 2015:

    Greg Buck ’77, President, Productivity, Inc.
    Dahlia Brue ’09, Owner, Boutique Idun
    Brad Cleveland ’82, former CEO, Proto Labs
    Mark Jacobsen ’79, Managing Director, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures
    Sian Muir, Entrepreneur In-Residence, St. Olaf College (Ex-Officio Non-Voting Member)
    Jonathan Pearce ’01, CEO, Zipnosis
    David Rose ’89, CEO Ditto Labs, MIT Media Lab
    Jennifer Sawyer ’94, Principal, Rebound Enterprises
    Kathi Tunheim P’13/’16, Professor of Management, Gustavus Adolphus College (Ex-Officio Non-Voting Member)
    Dick Vogen P’95/’99, Logistics Technology Consultant
    Darin Steffl ’13, CEO, Minnesota WiFi
    Megan Tsui ’96, Executive Director, Northfield Enterprise Center
    Roberto Zayas, Associate Director, Entrepreneurship (Ex-Officio Non-Voting Member)


    1. Any individual or group of First-Year, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior students enrolled at St. Olaf at the time of application.
    2. Applicants must be in good academic standing and have maintained professional conduct as a student*
    3. At least one member on the team must be between the ages of 19-30 on May 2, 2015.
    4. The idea needs to be economically viable and it cannot violate or infringe on the copyright or intellectual property of another.

    *Good academic standing means a minimum GPA of 2.0, not on academic probation or academically dismissed according to the Registrar’s Office. Professional conduct is vetted by the Dean of Students Office.

    Application Process

    1. Executive Summary (This is your elevator pitch) Due in Ole Career Central by Friday, March 20th, 2015. (100 word max).

    2. Business Plan – Student(s) should complete a high level business plan by Thursday, April 23th, 2015:
    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (100 Word Max)
    OPPORTUNITY: Convince us this is a breakthrough idea and an innovative approach. Describe your product/service, the problem it solves, your value proposition and what is unique or innovative about your approach.  Who is your target customer and how large is your addressable market? (500 words)
    PLAN: Convince us your plan is commercially viable. Explain your business model including operating, sales and marketing plans.  What activities will your company perform and what partners/vendors will you rely on, how will your product/service be priced and positioned, through what channels will you reach your customers, how will you create awareness and convert customers.  Also, include a list of key team members/advisors that are helping you develop the business.
    Please include summary financial projections and assumptions including projected volume, unit pricing and margins, major operating costs and capital needs. (500 words) One excel document may be uploaded with summary financial information.
    PROGRESS: What progress have you made?  Do you have a prototype, customers, strategic partners or revenue? Tell us what milestones you’ve achieved to validate the opportunity and bring your product/service to market. (500 words)

    For Social Ventures Only: Under the OPPORTUNITY section of the application, Social Ventures need to articulate the social benefits of their idea and how big the impact will be.

    3. Meet with a coach – Roberto Zayas OR Sian Muir after submitting the Executive Summary to review the Final Business Plan/Pitch before April 23th. (REQUIRED)

    4. Pitch – Student(s) will pitch their business during the Entrepreneurial Summit on May 2rd, 2015.

    Use this tutorial on presentation fundamentals for additional guidance.

    If you have any questions, please contact Roberto Zayas at zayas@stolaf.edu or stop by the Piper Center in Tomson 270.

    Mentoring Areas

    Finalists receive pro-bono mentoring from the following areas:

    • Accounting & Finance
    • Fundraising & Investors
    • Legal Services
    • Marketing & Social Media
    • Payroll & Human Resources
    • Web & Technology

    Videos for inspiration

    If you have any questions, please contact Roberto Zayas at zayas@stolaf.edu or stop by the Piper Center in Tomson 270.