Gustie Cup returns: entrepreneurs compete for lucrative prizes

Brady Boie – Staff Writer

After a two-year (in-person) hiatus, the Gustie Cup will return to campus this spring on Saturday, April 30, 2022 in Beck Academic Hall. This campus-wide competition allows innovative Gusties to share their business ideas with potential investors, faculty, and fellow students.

This competition offers a range of prizes and promotes innovation, entrepreneurship, and attention to detail.

Gusties from all majors are welcome to compete, and this year has been record-breaking in terms of both participation and number of different majors that will be represented in the cup.
“I am excited about the student response this year. We ended up with twenty-four teams this year as compared to ten last year (which was held on zoom),” Dr. Russell Michaletz said. “What’s even more encouraging is that teams are coming from across all majors, so that is the goal of the Gustie Cup – to become more centric toward a multidisciplinary expertise as opposed to a strictly business competition,” Michaletz said.

Michaletz, the co-founder and current director of the Gustie Cup, is happy to see this event return to campus in record-breaking fashion. With so many participants vying for entrepreneurial greatness, Michaletz anticipates that the level of competition will be like nothing he has seen before.

Because of this, students will not only need to come up with a clever product or idea but will also need to create a stellar presentation that will allow the judges to see the idea’s full potential.
Exceptional presentations will include a clear business plan that includes an explanation of the business model, which includes, “operating, sales, and marketing plans… what activities will be performed… summary financial projections and assumptions including projected volume, unit pricing and margins, major operating costs, and capital needs,” per the Gustie Cup Rules.

Michaletz made it clear that a good idea and a good plan aren’t necessarily enough to win the Gustie Cup. In order for aspiring entrepreneurs to succeed in the competition, they must show progress in some shape or form. This kind of progress could be shown with prototypes, potential customers, revenue, or proof of widespread interest in the product or idea.

“The most important part of progress is that students learn that they cannot develop their idea and have it be successful in a void. They have to get out of the building and go talk to people about their idea, and by doing that, they develop and sharpen their ideas. Most of the twenty-four teams have probably pivoted three times from their original idea based on feedback they have gotten from others,” Michaletz said.

This year’s Gustie Cup will have two different categories in which aspiring entrepreneurs can compete. The first category is “Enhanced Sustainable Venture, which is an enhanced version of an established, successful business model. The other category, “Novel Scalable Venture”, is where Gusties can best show off their creative spirit and often includes business ideas with “extraordinary upside”.
Each category requires a different skillset and a different approach to their respective presentations. Additionally, winners are chosen for each category and receive equal compensation.
“The basis upon our competition is fundamentally structured similarly to the Minnesota Cup. The Minnesota Cup is a competition about big ideas and ideas that are novel and scalable… but for the first time ever we have a new category. This category is for ideas that could create a career or a life’s worth of salary for a handful of people. Both are valuable in the world of entrepreneurism… you don’t have to have super big ideas to be an entrepreneur” Michaletz said.
First-place winners take home 5000 dollars to help start up their business ideas. Second-place finishers will receive 2500 dollars. Additionally, the Gustie Cup champions will automatically be entered into the Semifinals of the Minnesota Cup, the statewide entrepreneurship competition. If the Gustie Cup winners are fortunate enough to advance, they would receive an additional 5000 from Gustavus, as well as the prize money associated with the Minnesota Cup. With that said, Michaletz believes all participants can benefit from the experience.

The Gustie Cup is designed as an educational tool to help students how to think as an entrepreneur, how to go through the process… most of our students will not become entrepreneurs… they will likely work for large-scale companies, but the exact same skills they learned from the Cup can be used in an employment setting,” Michaletz said.
These prizes and valuable lessons have enticed many students to participate and come up with their most innovative ideas, which has inevitably created a buzz about the Cup on campus.
“I’m excited, yet nervous for the cup. There is a lot of preparation that still needs to be done. But, at the end of the day, it’ll be a great learning experience…It’s going to be a great event,” Sophomore Andrew Hoppe said.