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, moved to an online, virtual format for 2020. Students submitted a video pitch, and were available for live, virtual judging and feedback on Saturday, April 25th beginning at 9:30 a.m. until 2:15pm.

You can access the archived event here. Congratulations to all of the teams who competed – their hard work and professionalism shone through.

The 2020 competition results are as follows:

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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.


Ole Cup 2020 – Information & Requirements

Student teams must submit an Executive Summary. Deadline for Executive Summary submission has been extended to Sunday, April 5, 2020, to give students plenty of time to plan for the recent campus changes. Teams will need to submit a Business Plan by April 12, 2020. Students will then submit a 5-minute video pitch by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21. This is to ensure that our IT team can put together the live stream with these videos by Saturday. Teams must be available to attend the live, virtual judging event to answer questions and receive feedback on Saturday, April 25.

It is also highly recommended that you take advantage of the following resources:

  • Ole Entrepreneurs Programs – previously on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. in The Cave Makerspace. Remaining topics will be moved to virtual format. Check Handshake for further details. Topics include: prototyping, market research, minimum viable product, building an app, go-to-market strategies, start-up financials, governance and structures, and building a pitch.
  • At least one 1-1 meeting with Margaret Bransford, prior to April 12. These will be available remotely via video chat or phone beginning March 25. 
  • At least two half-hour Pitch Readiness sessions during the month of April. These will be available remotely via video chat or phone beginning April 13. 

Margaret Bransford, the Associate Director for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, provides 1-1 coaching and group programs to help students develop and refine their business ideas. From ideation, to market realities, to financial forecasting, she is here to help students as they prepare to pitch their ideas.

View 2014201520162017, 2018, and 2019 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 April 25, 2020.
  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 Handshake by the end of the day Sunday, April 5, 2020. (100 word max).

2. Business Plan – Student(s) should complete a high level business plan by April 12, 2020. Submit through Handshake 

St Olaf Entrepreneurship Basic Business Plan Template

3. Meet with a coach – Margaret Bransford after submitting the Executive Summary to review the Final Business Plan before April 12. (REQUIRED)

4. Pitch – Student(s) must submit a 5-minute video pitch by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, and be available to answer questions and receive judge feedback virtually during the Ole Cup on Saturday, April 25th, 2020.

Use this tutorial on presentation fundamentals for additional guidance.

A draft version of the Ole Cup 2020 Virtual Event can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Margaret Bransford, bransf1@stolaf.edu.


After the Ole Cup, students receive support and guidance on the next steps for the business idea, win or lose.