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Jenny Love Meyer, left, congratulates the OSU team of Pherolize, consisting of Lauren Hara, Viswanath Nukala, Alicia Young and David Thomison, for winning first place in the Graduate High Growth Division of the 2023 Love's Entrepreneur's Cup.

OSU student innovators win first place at Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Media Contact: Terry Tush | Director, Marketing and Communications | 405-744-2703 |

A team of three Oklahoma State University students were among the top winners at the 2023 Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, winning first place in their division and taking home more than $20,000 in prize money.

The Pherolize team of Lauren Hara (MBA), Viswanath Nukala (PhD, Chemistry) and Alicia Young (Masters, Agricultural Economics) won first place in the Graduate High Growth Division. The three OSU graduate students, working in conjunction with advisor David Thomison from the Spears School of Business, teamed up to earn first place over teams from the University of Tulsa, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma.

“With students from three different colleges, this represented my most diverse competitive Business Plan team ever,” said Thomison, associate professor of practice and George Kaiser Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship at Spears Business. “In my opinion, the outstanding teamwork to managerially leverage and integrate this breadth of business, technical and industry expertise constituted their winning competitive edge and maximized the experiential high tech startup experience.”

Forty-one teams entered this year’s competition, which culminated in 18 finalist teams across three business plan divisions: Small Business, High Growth Undergraduate and High Growth Graduate. Winning teams were revealed at the Oklahoma History Center on April 20.

In the High Growth Graduate division, Pherolize won first place and $20,000 for their organic pest control business idea. Pherolize proactively prevents insect damage in a localized area and in a highly cost-effective manner. Farmers can dramatically increase top-line revenue while realizing added benefits of lower operational costs and the option of re-classifying as organic crop producers.

Pherolize also won a top spot and $1,000 in the Energy & Environment Interview category, which was presented by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

The Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup is a statewide collegiate business plan competition that simulates the real-world process of researching a market, writing a business plan and making a presentation to potential investors. Over its history, 2,700 students have participated, showcasing over 820 innovative ideas and receiving $2.45 million in awards. The program is sponsored by Love’s Travel Stops and administered by i2E, a private not-for-profit corporation focused on growing innovative small businesses in Oklahoma and making a positive impact on the state’s economy. More information is available at

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