100 ideas, 100 grants, and 100 unique opportunities to learn by doing.
As it finishes up its third year, McPherson College’s Horizon Fund will mark a significant milestone: helping MC students explore more than 100 of their unique ideas.
“I think this is our flagship program,” said Dr. Kori Gregg, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation. “When I consider how much student gravitate toward it, this is where it’s at.”
Started in 2010 as part of the “Freedom to Jump” entrepreneurship initiative at McPherson College, the Horizon Fund provides micro-grants of up to $500 for students to explore a great idea they want to pursue. The goal of the fund is to lift up liberal arts at the college and to spark the entrepreneurial spirit of McPherson College students.
After the most recent round of funding in May 2013, 102 concepts involving about 150 students had been given grant funding during the three years of the Horizon Fund.
In addition, 14 students have been involved with more than one idea, and 21 ideas have received two or more grants as concepts have progressed and grown. In total, McPherson College has written 136 grant checks to students, just to help them have the most valuable learning experience of all:
Actually doing something.
During the most recent academic year, 29 new ideas received funding another nine ideas started in previous years received additional funding – everything from a mobile app to give homework reminders by text to jewelry made from vintage license plates.
One recipient, Torey Fry, senior, Wichita, Kan., looked around in an age of digital photography and saw that her classmates were still frequently working with film photography. It’s hands-on, physical, and nostalgic in a way that pixels simply aren’t.
But creating her own customized prints from film was challenging.
“You can do digital photography anywhere,” she said. “But with film photography, it’s just hard to find the space and the chemicals to develop your own.”
So Torey in planning to use her grant to start creating “The Darkroom” – a business that allows photographers to rent common darkroom space and to reserve studio space for taking professional images. Her grant will help her get started with basic supplies and equipment.
Another recipient is using a Horizon Fund grant that takes advantage of his superpower”¦ of a sort.
“It’s a pretty awful superpower,” said Grahm Mahanna, senior, Hoxie, Kan. “It’s the ability to come up with nonsense words on the spot.”
But the day for “Nonsense Man” arrived when he and Amy Huxtable ’11 were brainstorming a way to encourage creativity. Their idea was “Wuzzwump” (www.wuzzwump.com). On a regular basis, they plan to post one of Grahm’s nonsense words and ask artist and non-artist alike to create what they think the word is.
“We wanted to make a website where people can log in and stretch their creative muscles,” Mahanna said.
Eventually, they want to create a lesson plan for schools, start an online Wuzzwump store, and perhaps publish a coffee table book. Another student involved is Justin Biegger, senior, Fuquay Varina, N.C., who is working with the site to research the benefits of “play” in everyday life.
Erik Steffens, senior, Dighton, Kan., has a venture about as far from a website as one can get. He has been raising purebred Black Angus cattle for breeding since he was a senior in high school, gradually doubling the size of his herd. Still, he knew there were many ranchers who were unaware of his business.
With a Horizon Fund grant, he was able to create fliers to go up at sale barns, write letters directly to private breeders, and place ads in magazines. His efforts brought new inquires and customers for his service. The grant helped him bring together lessons learned in marketing and entrepreneurship classes at MC.
“Marketing is tough,” he said. “But without marketing, you’re a sunk ship. This allowed me to experience other avenues I wouldn’t have before.”
The other Horizon Fund grant recipients in 2012-2013 were:
- Langston Rhynes, junior, Garland, Texas: A clothing line with a high-end, unique look at an affordable price called “Eccentric.”
- David Jussell, sophomore, Cross River, N.Y.: Creating bracelets and jewelry from vintage and antique license plates.
- Alex Cosenza, sophomore, Franklin, Mich.: Exploring a mobile app called “The Homework Helper” that would allow students to scan a barcode on their homework that would automatically upload it to a calendar and set a text reminder.
- Jason Pfoutz, senior, Manville, N.J.: Writing a book on unique mixed drinks. Also proposed “Pfoofie’s Powder Plating” – a chroming business using an alternate method with powder.
- Tyler Boonstra, freshman, Grandville, Mich.: Creating a safe target shooting backstop using recycled tires and steel plates.
- Kenzie Smith, freshman, Augusta, Kan.: Selling MC-themed caps, scarves, headbands and blankets to benefit a different charity every month – called “Crochet Away”
- Trent Noller, senior, Yorba Linda, Calif.: “Step It Up LLC” – developing and synthesizing natural remedies.
- Mikhail Perez, senior, Chanute, Kan.: RPCM (Reliable Professional Car Management) – Detailing and professional car preservation business.
- 14 MC students: “Etch” – a non-profit, student-run marketing and graphic design organization that exclusively serves non-profit organizations on a donation basis. More information at studioetch.org.
- Jordon Hargitt, junior, Quinter, Kan.: Create a website or Facebook tool to help current students find jobs or internships offered by MC alumni.
- Ryan Polson, junior, Long Valley, N.J.: “Hot Iron Clothing Company” – Creating T-shirts and sweatshirts with designs appealing to automotive-oriented people
- Lance Butler, junior, Torrance, Calif.: Pursuing becoming a professional sheet metal fabricator
- Magenta Jackson, sophomore, Corpus Christi, Texas: “Princess Therapy” – Cosmetology and spa services
- Richard Morchesky: “RM Leather” – Custom Western-design leatherworking business
- McPherson College Business Club: Use two purchased vending machines to sell snack food in the college library
- Timothy Dancisin, junior, Colorado Springs, Colo.: “Dancisin Automotive Upholstery” – home business in automotive upholstery
- Kyle Smith, senior, Milford, Kan.: Custom video business for automotive and motorcycle enthusiasts
- Tyler Henning, freshman, Sedgwick, Kan.: “Marvelous Metal” – an art venture creating functional art with metal. 10 percent of proceeds go to charity.
- Evan Muir: “Muircat Range” – airsoft range business
- Matt Willis, freshman, Sedgwick, Kan.: “DJ Solo” – DJ service
- Emilee Reinert, senior, Tipton, Kan., and Estrella Medina, junior, Wichtia, Kan.: “Bulldog Trading Post” – an online site for MC college students to buy, sell and trade items
- Brady Sherman: Vending machine service
- Kylan Bennet, freshman, Healy, Kan.: “Awkward Expression” – Cinematic video production
- Malorie Thurman, freshman, Belle Plaine, Kan.: “iChalk Addvertisments” – Sidewalk Chalk ad service
- Cole Gailor, freshman, Lake George, N.Y.: “Off the Wall Rods & Customs” – automotive restoration and custom shop. Will specialize in installing modern audio systems in classic cars, while keeping the “stock” look.
- Rusty Andersen, junior, Hasting, Minn.: “Cheese Life” – a business selling hats with blocks of cheese pictured on them in an “outsider art” look
In addition, the following grant recipients from previous years received more funding in the last year:
- Brittney Shoulders, junior, Rialto, Calif.: Creating elegant retro-style purses from the same vinyl as classic automobiles in a business called “Cherry Doll Purses”
- Casey Maxon, senior, Lawrence, Kan.: “Cacklefest Photography” – focusing on quality photographs for auto enthusiasts and restorers and specializing on restored automobiles and the restoration process.
- Jonathan Wickramasinghe, senior, Hesperia, Calif.: A clothing company called “Iffy” (meaning “cool”), focusing on down-to-earth clothing appealing to snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding culture.
- Pat Knapp, senior, Basking Ridge, N.J., and Michael Rhodes, sophomore, Perrysburg, Ohio: Restructuring and expanding an existing automotive repair shop in McPherson run by students as “Bulldog Garage” – specializing in weekend and evening hours to better fit people’s schedules
- Michael Rhodes, sophomore, Perrysburg, Ohio, and Miriam Roof, junior, Perrysburg, Ohio: A full-service motorcycle repair shop called Mac Cycles.
- Natasha Chaney, junior, Edgerton, Kan.: Provide snacks and basic personal supplies to her fellow hallmates so they don’t have to travel to the grocery store.
- Aurore Joigny, senior, Deuil-la-Barre, France: Business called “Sucre” making gourmet French pastries called Macarons and Canneles.
- Shane Dresser, senior, Kearny, N.J.: Create durable tooled leather belts, key chains, wallets, briefcases and bags.
- Miriam Roof, junior, Perrysburg, Ohio: a business selling antique furniture, Depression-era glass, used books, vintage clothing and accessories – “Mad Madam Mim’s Rare Books and Antiques.” Expanding into executing a estate sale or moving sale under “Mad Madam Mim’s Antiques and Estates.”