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Pelican Cup

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Competition Dates 2024

Published September 27th, 2023

January 3th

  • Applications Open for Online Business Plan Submission

February 25th

  • Applications Close for Business Plans Due 11:59 p.m.  

March 15th

  • Announcement of Finalists

March 26th

  • Oral Finals- The Hangar

April 19th

  • Awards Luncheon – ULM Campus- Bayou Pointe Event Center 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup announces new prize amounts and creation of Student Innovation Fund

Published August 15th, 2023
Student Innovation Fund Pelican Cup


By ULM Office of Marketing and Communications 

MONROE, LA – The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup, Louisiana’s premier business plan competition, announced plans to increase prize amounts as well as the creation of the Student Innovation Fund, which will provide up to $200,000 annually to support new businesses grown from the competition. The announcement was made at a press conference on Monday, August 14, 2023, on the campus of the University of Louisiana Monroe, which hosts the annual competition.  

"This is really quite a moment,” said ULM President Dr. Ron Berry. “It’s one of those moments in our history that’s going to send a strong message to the world that we truly are serious about changing lives on the bayou. We’re serious about reaching out and working with partners, bringing people to campus and to Monroe, Louisiana, to make a difference, not only in our students’ lives but the lives of our faculty and the community at large,” he added.  

When the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup enters its third year in 2024, the first-place prize amount will increase to $50,000, up from $25,000, while the second-place prize will increase to $25,000, up from $15,000. The third-place prize will remain at $10,000, with the pitch competition winner receiving $2,000, and the first through third-place faculty advisors receiving $3,000 each. This brings the total amount awarded each year to $96,000.  

The newly created Student Innovation Fund offers Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup finalists the opportunity to apply for additional funding if they choose to take the next step and pursue their business. The fund will award a total of $200,000 per year over the next five years. Priority will be given to first through third-place teams, but any finalist team is eligible to apply. The fund will help foster the growth of ideas while providing guidance and resources along the way. The Student Innovation Fund is made possible by anonymous donations. 

"With their investment in the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup and Student Innovation Fund, these donors have provided the opportunity for complete and total trajectory changes in the lives of students, that will benefit and transform our community, the region, the state of Louisiana, and perhaps the world,” said Dr. Michelle McEacharn, Dean of the ULM College of Business and Social Sciences.  

The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup was founded by distinguished ULM alumnus Dhu Thompson, who is also the premier sponsor of the event. His increase of the prize money puts this competition among the top of its kind in the nation.  

Cathi Hemed, Director of External Initiatives at ULM, is the organizer of the competition. “With this incredible competition, ULM is leading the way in changing the future for higher education students and making a statement of dedication to Louisiana business development,” said Hemed.  

About the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup 

Open to all majors with cash prizes totaling $96,000, The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup is the premier business plan competition for Louisiana. It provides an opportunity for students to develop critical thinking, team building, presentation, and other soft skills, which are all important to career growth.  The goal is to inspire participants and the community to think entrepreneurially by rewarding creativity, professionalism, and hard work.  The 2024 competition will be open to any degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student throughout the state of Louisiana.  

Teams submit written, formal business plans, which are reviewed and scored independently by a panel of twelve volunteer judges made up of business owners and investors. The panel of judges later deliberates in groups to select the six finalist teams.  

The six finalist teams conduct in-person oral presentations. Five volunteer judges dedicate their time to listening to each team present their business plan and supporting visuals. The judges then deliberate and select the first, second, and third-place winners. Each finalist team also chooses a representative to participate in a 90-second pitch competition, held live during The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Awards Luncheon. The winner is chosen by the audience at the luncheon via text message voting.


Dates of 2024 Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup competition: 

01/03/2024 - Applications Open 

02/25/2024 - Applications Close 

03/15/2024 - Announcement of Finalists 

03/26/2024 - Oral Finals 

04/19/2024 - Awards Luncheon and Live Pitch Competition 


Sponsorships to increase the impact of this already extraordinary program are available and allow companies to show their support of Louisiana business development. Anyone seeking sponsorship or information about joining/participating in the Pelican Cup or Student Innovation Fund can reach out to Cathi Hemed, Director of External Initiatives, at  The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Competition Guide is available on the website: 


Competition Dates 2023

Published October 10th, 2022

January 4th

  • Applications Open for Online Business Plan Submission

February 26th

  • Business Plans Due 11:59 p.m.  

Week of February 27th

  • Written Judging Begins 

March 13-14th

  • Written Judging Closes 11:59 p.m. 

March 16th

  • Finalists Announcement NOON

March 27th

  • Revised Plans Due from Finalists 11:59 p.m. 

April 4th

  • Oral Finals- ULM Campus- SUB Ballroom A- All Day

April 21st

  • Awards Luncheon – ULM Campus- Bayou Pointe Event Center 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


2022 Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup Awards Luncheon Thursday with $61,000 in prizes 

Event from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. April 7 at Bayou Pointe Event Center

Published April 5th, 2022

The University of Louisiana Monroe and alumnus Dhu Thompson, founder and retired CEO of Delta Plastics, partnered to create the 2022 Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup to encourage students to develop innovative business ideas. 

Thompson is providing $61,000 in prize money to be presented to students and faculty advisers for first place ($25,000), second place ($15,000), third place ($10,000), elevator pitch ($2,000), and $3,000 to faculty for first, second and third places. 

The Awards Luncheon is 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Thursday, April 7, at Bayou Pointe Event Center. The winners will be announced at 12:45 p.m. The luncheon is open to the public, and tickets are available at

The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup is an academic business plan competition. It was open to full- or part-time undergraduate and graduate certificate or degree-seeking students from ULM and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM).

Fifteen teams submitted a written, formal business plan judged by business owners and investors. Six finalists were chosen for in-person oral presentations. An Elevator Pitch competition with a prize of $2,000 will be held after the luncheon.

Finalist teams

Gaea Environmental – team leader Paurava Thakore, team members Gannon Malone, Prabin Basnet and adviser Joydeep Bhattacharjee, Ph.D.; GeauxGas – team leader Luke Phillips, team members Justin Gibson, John Bardwell, Reagan Lloyd, and adviser Stacie Austin, Ph.D.; RapidReceipts – team leader Tama Washington, team members, Julia Oubre, Edwin Litolff, and advisers Vice President for Student Affairs Valerie Fields, Ed.D. Kim Shephard; Southern Green Solutions – team leader Preston Phillips, team members Michael Hollman, Kasidy King, Christopher Barton, Akriti Pant, and adviser Claudia Williams; spotiT – team leader Adesola Raphael Akinpelu, team members, Stanislava Prosvietova, Valeryia Trubskaya, and adviser Joyce Zhou, Ph.D.; Virtual Tour – team leader Dharmendra Sharma, team members Mai Hieu, Samir Gurung, and advisers William Barnett, Ph.D., and Jun Yu, Ph.D.

Participating teams

BRHM Agency – team Leader Cole McKnight, team members Ryan Humeniuk, Brianna Sam, and adviser Bruce Walker, Ph.D.; Love Local Box – team leader Asja Jordan, team members Andie Lindsey, Dylan LeBoeuf, and adviser Josh Tolleson; M.A.D.R.E. – team leader Andrew McMillan, team members, Roxie Stewart, Colby Glatter, Cater Saterfiel, Adriana Brown and adviser Jennifer Whited, Ph.D., My Bistro – team leader Hanna Flynn, team members Brady McKay, William F. Bryan, and adviser Joyce Zhou, Ph.D.; Pet Safe – team leader Charlotte Fourdraine, team members Shani White, Viktar Harbachuk, and adviser Rachel Pollock; Skedgy – team leader Daylan Nailer, team members, Brian Scott, Tommy Wimbley, and adviser Elizabeth Ragland; The Pinnacles – team leader Hamid Khan, team members, Rodney Pardue, Kamana Thapa Magar, Zia Ullah Khan, and advisers Shakir Ullah, Ph.D., and Joyce Zhou, Ph.D.; Vetollo – team leader Adam Charles, team members, Nirajan Sangraula, Connor McDuffie, and adviser Arturo Rodriguez, Ph.D.; Warhawk Wellness – team leader Blake Stone, team members, Phillip Vu-Nguyen, Carolyn Cardin, Lauren Fee, and advisers Dean Don Simpson, Ph.D., and Amy Miller.

Preliminary judges

Ash Aulds of Murphy USA, Bradley Bridges of Cross Keys Bank, Chap Breard of MOEBiz, John F. Bruscato of Bruscato Law Firm, Max Cox of Lumen Technologies, Mallory Lawrence of InterMountain Management, LLC, Dr. Toni Lowe-Fisher of Engineer Research and Development Center, Justin Mailhes Argent Advisors, Mary Linda McCann of Bank of Oak Ridge, Shane Middleton of M3 Accounting Services, Tom Nicholson of Strauss Interests, Long Nguyen of Lumen Technologies, Miguel Perez of Plondo Network, Kelly J. Shambro of Progressive Bank, and David Smith of Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program.

Final round judges

Dixon W. Abell of Abell LLC dba Poly Processing & Ouachita Fertilizer Company,  Stewart Ewing of InterMountain Management, Meryl K. Farr of Kennedy Rice Mill and 4Sisters Rice CEO Neighbors, LLC, Susan Hoffmann, retired, of JPMorganChase - Northeast Louisiana, Linda Holyfield of Specialty Management Services of Ouachita, LLC, Patrick Owen of Owen Corporation, and William Smart of Monroe Housing Authority.

Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup sponsors

Premier Sponsor and Founder ­– Dhu Thompson, Expansion Sponsor – Scott Powerline & Utility Equipment, Growth Sponsors – Arkansas Capital and Mid South Extrusion, Breakthrough Sponsors ­– Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program, InterMountain, Law Offices of John L. Luffy Jr., Monroe Chamber of Commerce, West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce, Monroe Housing Authority, Marsala Beverage, Kennedy Rice Mill/4 Sisters Rice/Neighbors, John Rea Realty, Origin Bank, Homeland Bank, Abell, Influencer Sponsors – Argent Advisors Inc., Progressive Bank, Unique Trophies and Awards, Harvey Hales Shelter Insurance, and Scott Truck.



Published March 9th, 2022

Congratulations to the 6 finalist teams competing for our cash prize pool of $61,000!!

Southern Green Solutions


Gaea Environmental


Virtual Tour

Rapid Receipt

Oral Finals will be held right here at ULM at The Hangar, March 29th throughout the day.  The presentation schedule will be posted prior to the event- come and support your favorite team and all of their hard work!

We want to thank all of our teams and faculty advisors for their hours of hard work!

The awards luncheon on April 7th is now open for individual ticket and sponsorship purchasing- come experience our LIVE 90-sec Elevator Pitch Competition where the audience will vote on site for the winner.  Winner receives $2,000!!!




A press conference announcing the new Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup business competition will be at 10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 22, at Laird Weems Center.

By ULM Office of Marketing and Communications

MONROE, LA – Innovation, fostered in a culture of expanding ideas and pushing established boundaries, leads to the changes in business, healthcare, and technology which propel society past the normal and into the incredible.

To encourage students to develop their innovative ideas, the university, with a key partner, announces the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Oct 22, 2021, a press conference will be held at Laird Weems Center to introduce the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup business competition developed by ULM in partnership with sponsor Dhu C. Thompson, founder and retired CEO of Delta Plastics.

Thompson is providing $50,000 in prize money to be presented to students and faculty advisers for first place ($25,000), second place ($15,000), third place ($10,000), elevator pitch ($2,000), and $3,000 to faculty for first, second and third places.

The 2022 competition is open to all ULM and VCOM students, with future competitions open to all colleges and universities in Louisiana. A website will be launched containing more information about how to enter the Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup.

The Entrepreneurship Pelican Cup is a real-world entrepreneur education opportunity for college students. Whether they are serious about launching a startup or they want to learn more about entrepreneurship, competitors will gain a greater appreciation of the challenges and opportunities of starting a viable business.

There is no cost to enter the competition. Teams are not required to launch their businesses to compete. Students and their faculty advisers are rewarded for the rigorous work accomplished throughout all phases of the competition.

Thompson is a distinguished ULM alumnus and founder, past owner, and former chairman of the board for Delta Plastics, producer of agricultural irrigation tubing, and the largest recycler of plastics in Arkansas. He is also the former owner and past chairman of the board for Revolution Bag that manufactures EPA-compliant trashcan liners. Thompson’s honors include 2004 Arkansas Business Executive of the Year and SBA Person of the Year. In 2019 he sold the Revolution brands to a New York private equity firm and now focuses on entrepreneurship growth in Arkansas and Louisiana.