Ole Cup

Pitch your idea and win cash!

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. 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 $20,000, 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.


  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 - 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 Friday, April 17th, 2015:
    • Description of Product/Service:  the problem or customer pain it solves, its competitive advantage and what is unique about the product/service. (400 word max)
    • Market Size/Potential/Opportunity: estimate of the size of the market and its growth rate, the product/service’s target customer, competitor analysis and the strategy to successfully compete. (400 word max)
    • Sales & Marketing: explanation of the sales strategy, the channels that will be used to deliver the product/service, marketing tactics that will be used to create awareness and a discussion about how the product/service will be priced and positioned. (400 word max)
    • Operating Plan: how the product/service will be brought to market (design, manufacture/develop, distribute), the current stage of development and a discussion of the expertise/experience that the management team brings and any missing pieces. (400 word max)
    • Financials: any high level historical financials that are available, a minimum of five years of revenue and profit projections, assumptions supporting the projections and the amount of outside capital that will be required, when it will be needed and what it will be used for. (400 word max)
  3. Meet with a coach – Roberto Zayas, Sian Muir, OR Megan Tsui after submitting the Executive Summary to review the Final Business Plan/Pitch before April 17th. (REQUIRED)
  4. Pitch - Student(s) will pitch their business during the Entrepreneurial Summit on May 2rd, 2015.

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

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.

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.