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A-State Team Wins Agricultural Division in Governor’s Cup


JONESBORO – A unique idea and strong business plan led to a first-place finish and a cash prize at the 2019 Arkansas Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan competition luncheon recently in Little Rock.

2019 Governor's Cup
Governor's Cup Agriculture Division winners: (From left) Samantha Brainard of Collierville, Tenn.; Adam Al-Dankhi of Jonesboro; Dr. Erick Chang, associate professor of management and team adviser (holding trophy); and James Riles of Crossett.

The “Lucky Cricket Snack Factory,” a company using flour made from crickets to manufacture protein shakes, granola bars, brownies, chips and more, picked up the victory in the undergraduate semifinal round of the Business Plan Category and in the final round for the Arkansas Farm Bureau Agricultural Division. The team members are Adam Al-Dhanki of Jonesboro, Samantha Brainard of Collierville, Tenn., and James Riles of Crossett. 

The group brought home $5,000, a share of the total cash prize of $154,000. The competition was sponsored by Delta Plastics of Little Rock and managed by Arkansas Capital Corporation.

“This win showcases our engagement with students as it is the first time that we assembled a team of three entrepreneurship minors with different majors of business administration, finance and biology,” said Dr. Erick Chang, associate professor of management and team adviser.

“The idea started after James Riles was interested in creating a protein bar while Adam Al-Dhanki had the idea of doing a cricket farm. Thus, they combined both ideas, and with Samantha’s biology background, were able to move forward with the plan.”

Chang went on to say the team continued to work during the semester as the members were motivated after taking fourth place and the most innovative idea in the fall pitch competition. During the pitch competition, he continued, the idea for adding the agricultural component to compete in the Governor’s Cup was developed, so the initial expectation was to secure a spot as a finalist in the agricultural division.

Chang is closing a 12-year career as the faculty adviser for the Governor’s Cup teams.

“We started a succession plan two years ago that is concluding,” Chang concluded. “Dr. Hilary Schloemer, assistant professor of management, in Jonesboro and Marvin Jones at Arkansas State University-Beebe will be helping students for the 2020 competition. For me, leaving my cycle with six Governor’s Cups can motivate the new advisers to keep on the winning streak.”

Since 2007, A-State teams competing in the Governor’s Cup have won $70,000 in cash prizes. For more information about the Governor’s Cup, go to argovernorscup.org.