Student-run company will receive $10,000 award in worldwide competition
CONWAY—The Conductor today announced that Southern Bloodline Apparel is the winner of the $10,000 first-place prize in the Collegiate Venture Competition, a competition created by the Conductor to celebrate successful, post-revenue companies run by college students or recent college graduates. In its first year, the competition received applications from student companies around the world, with representation from a number of Arkansas colleges and universities, as well as Drexel University, the University of Chicago and the National Research Saratov State University in Russia.
Southern Bloodline Apparel is co-owned by student-athletes Kyle Alexander, Ty Owens and JD Speed, all of whom are seniors at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. The e-commerce company was borne out of the students’ dorm rooms in 2017, and has since expanded its product line, been granted two registered trademarks and generated $95,000 in sales.
“We are extremely honored that the Conductor organization and its successful entrepreneurs see the potential we see in our business. Winning this competition is really going to accelerate our company’s growth. We want to thank Conductor, as well as our faculty sponsor, Dean McKinney, for making this possible,” said Alexander, Owens and Speed.
The winner of the $5,000 second-place prize is Fayetteville-based Simkins Brothers’ Sweets, a candy company co-owned by Austin Simkins, who received his MBA from the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business, and his brother Quinn Simkins, a senior at the University of Arkansas.
“This competition is a great testament to the powerful, entrepreneurial minds of college students,” said Kim Lane, CEO of the Conductor. “It’s incredibly inspiring to see the successes of student-run companies, and to empower these students to continue growing their businesses and creating jobs for other people in their communities. We’re honored to create these types of opportunities for students around the world.”
The competition was judged by Alison Williams, Chief of Staff for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson; Clete Brewer, Managing Partner of New Road Capital Partners; Yuval Yarden, Director of Ecosystem Engagement at the Global Entrepreneurship Network; and Ramon Ray, Editor of Smart Hustle Magazine.
“This type of competition is important because it raises the bar for collegiate startups. By awarding funding that is critical to early-stage ventures, this contest encourages entrepreneurship in our brightest young minds,” said Alison Williams, Chief of Staff for Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “It’s incredible to see the caliber of talent coming out of colleges and universities and particularly exciting to see the number of successful, student-run startups within our state.”
Each of the companies in the competition were required to complete an application, submit a 60-second video and lean canvas, and have a faculty sponsor from their college or university. There was no fee to apply.
Additional information about the Conductor and the Collegiate Venture Competition is available at www.arconductor.org/venturecomp.