Ole Cup 2024

Ole Cup 2024 | April 27, 2024

Welcome to the 2024 Ole Cup! We are excited to celebrate the history of entrepreneurship at St. Olaf College and the 10 year anniversary of the Ole Cup with a wonderful community of alums, students, and friends of the college. As you plan your visit to campus, we encourage you to review the following sections to learn about the weekend events, volunteer opportunities, and more!

10-Year Anniversary Celebration | Details + Logistics

Ole Cup 10 year_final

Keynote Speaker

At the age of eight, Michelle Magat Williams ’92 took to her sister’s typewriter to churn out weekly ‘zines, which she’d sell to her parents’ friends for a nickel an issue. This penchant for writing eventually earned her a bachelor’s in English from St. Olaf College and a master’s in journalism from Indiana University. And her entrepreneurial spirit ultimately shaped a 25-year career in communications and marketing.
Michelle co-founded the global communications firm Current, ran her own consulting business, co-founded a school communications software startup, and advised Fortune 500 companies while working at two of the world’s leading communications agencies — Weber Shandwick and Edelman. Today, she is the Director of Communications and Innovation at La Cocina, an award-winning nonprofit food business incubator in San Francisco.
Community service is a personal passion. She has provided hundreds of hours over the last decade volunteering for schools, cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations.

Origins of the Ole Cup

Brad Cleveland ’82 (1959-2016) wanted St. Olaf College students to realize how much fun it can be to be an entrepreneur— no matter what type of organization they’re interested in building. So Cleveland, former CEO of Proto Labs, helped the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career develop and fund a new business plan competition. The Ole Cup is modeled after the highly successful Minnesota Cup and will provide several students with the resources to help turn their business idea into reality.
In 2014, the Piper Center for Vocation and Career launched the inaugural Ole Cup as an annual student entrepreneurial pitch competition open to all St. Olaf students. Staying true to Cleveland’s vision, the Piper Center supported 13 students through the development of their ventures and welcomed 7 teams to the stage for the first pitch-competition. The winner of the 1st Annual Ole Cup was JonnyPops which has grown to become a multi-million dollar company with a mission to spread kindness every day.
The 10 year anniversary of the Ole Cup celebrates a decade of growth, change, and inspiration. This milestone comes at a special time at the college as we welcome President Susan Rundell Singer who brings an innovative mindset and a passion to develop solution seekers within our community. This leadership, paired with a student body that is ever-evolving to the demands of our global world, seeks to honor and commemorate the entrepreneurial spirit of the past and the visionary direction of the future.

Students who have participated in the Ole Cup since 2014.


Total amount of Ole Cup prize money awarded to teams to help fund their new ventures.


Finstad grants awarded to help seed new, innovative ideas,

“St. Olaf College has had a long history of nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship. The Finstad Program for Entrepreneurial Studies (now embedded in the Piper Center) was originally established in 1992 providing grants, entrepreneurship classes, internships, speaker events and other activities. This support continues to this day. The entrepreneurship program sparks creativity, builds resilience, and nurtures critical thinking – vital skills for students graduating into an increasingly complex world.”
SIAN CHRISTIE, Entrepreneur in Residence; Director of Business and Management Studies