University of Arkansas Teams Headed to Graduate Student Business Competition

Two teams from the University of Arkansas are perfecting their pitches in preparation for the Rady School of Management Student Venture Open, a graduate student business competition scheduled for Thursday and Friday in San Diego.

The competition is hosted by the University of California, San Diego in partnership with the WBT Innovation Marketplace, an annual event that brings together venture capital, angel investment, Fortune 1000 licensing scouts, federal agencies, universities, companies and innovators.

EverClean Coating Solutions created a self-cleaning coating technology for solar panels that improves efficiency. Picassolar developed a patent-pending process that improves the efficiency of solar cells by 15 percent and could save manufacturers an estimated $5 million to $10 million annually per production line.

The EverClean Coating Solutions team members are Bill Ryan and Manish Phogat, master’s in business administration students in the Sam M. Walton College of Business; Vince Gwon, a master of accountancy student in Walton College; Corey Thompson, a doctoral student in the College of Engineering; and Caroline Powell, who is seeking master’s degrees in both the College of Engineering and Walton College.

The Picassolar team members are: Trish Flanagan, a student in the concurrent master’s degree in business administration and public service program offered by the Walton College and the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock; Seth Shumate and Matthew Young, doctoral students in the microelectronics-photonics program offered by the College of Engineering and J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; and Michael Miller, a master of accountancy student in Walton College.

The teams are coached by Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas. They formed in the New Venture Development graduate course taught by Reeves, holder of the Cecil and Gwendolyn Cupp Applied Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

“We anticipate some of the brightest students from the top universities will be competing,” Ryan said. “We are working hard to be prepared to compete at a very high level. Dr. Reeves’ students have a long history of competing at the top. We hope to carry on the university’s legacy of excellence in New Venture Development.”

On Thursday night, the teams will compete in the elevator pitch category, consisting of a 120-second speech that focuses on selling an idea to an audience. On Friday, the finalists will appear before a panel of judges to make a 12-minute presentation.

The winning team will receive a cash award of $8,000 and an invitation to the Global Moot Corp Business Plan Competition at the University of Texas at Austin in May, which bills itself as the “Super Bowl of business competitions.” The first runner-up will receive $1,500 and the winner of the elevator pitch competition will receive $500. The winners will be announced at the WBT Awards Luncheon in the San Diego Convention Center.


Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
University Relations
(479) 575-4737,


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