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Horizon Fund at McPherson College Awards Grants to Young Entrepreneurs

In October, McPherson College gave money to its students for 11 ideas in the first round of Horizon Fund grants this year.

Since it was established in 2010, the fund has enabled more than 200 McPherson College entrepreneurs to explore, develop and implement their dreams while still in college. It’s just one aspect of the college’s larger entrepreneurship initiative, which is working to develop the entrepreneurial spirit – creativity, innovation, and daring – across all areas of study at MC.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at MC, said that each Horizon Fund grant is $500 or less. Opportunities for guidance and mentoring can also be arranged for those who receive Horizon Fund grants.

“It’s a relatively small investment with a big return for us,” Archer-Rierson said. “In my experience, when our college students are pursuing an idea they’re passionate about, they work harder, learn more, and get involved in campus life. The students benefit by getting to explore an idea they might not have considered otherwise. Some students have even launched new careers with their grant.”

Monica Ewy, junior, Hesston, Kan., was one of the grant recipients in October and saw a great opportunity to start a business she calls “Memory Catcher.” The idea is to create photography, paintings and even sculpture to help people preserve and relive their favorite memories in a treasured keepsake they can display.

“It’s something they can look at and re-live that memory,” she said. “These paintings should give you good feelings that you want to display in your home.”

The grant will help her to purchase necessary equipment and supplies to get “Memory Catcher” going.

Ewy started at MC as an art major, but moved over to the automotive restoration department after she realized how much artistic ability was involved with restoration.

“I realized I had this long, subconscious love for cars that could finally be fulfilled,” she said.

Because of her college focus, Ewy expects that while she is not limiting her business to classic cars, a number of her first clients will probably be automotive enthusiasts. In particular, she’s interested in capturing the fine details of treasured vehicles in her art.

“There are those few things that make that car special,” she said. “That’s what I want to capture… that whole essence.”

Colton Allemand, freshman, El Dorado, Kan., came to McPherson College in part because of a good baseball scholarship, in part because of his faith background and in part because he was intrigued by the possibilities the Horizon Fund presented.

With his Horizon Fund concept, all of these interests come together beautifully – the Wooden Cross Bat Company. Together with his friend Ethan Woodcock, freshman, Rossville, Kan., Allemand plans to create wooden bats for baseball players who want a way to express their Christian faith right on their game equipment. The first models will feature the words of popular Christian scripture where players can focus on it before stepping into the batter’s box.

“I’ve noticed that people are looking for a professional way to show their faith,” Allemand said. “I thought that with my bat company, while also creating a great product, I could also find a way to meet that need.”

For Allemand, pursuing the concept of the Wooden Cross Bat Company probably would have had to be a dream delayed, were it not for the financial assistance and mentoring from the fund.

“It would have been much harder,” he said. “I don’t know that I would have been able to in college.”

Zach McClure, senior, Trenton, Mo., plans to use his grant to innovatively pursue an old profession – McClure wants to become a blacksmith.

McClure already has much of the equipment he needs after learning the basics of the trade from Lee Teeter – a painter and amateur blacksmith who is a friend.

When he wants to move any of his (heavy!) equipment such an anvil, shears, or portable “rivet forge” between home and college, it means putting his car through the wringer and testing how well its suspension holds up.

“That poor Subaru has seen a lot of action,” he said.

As a result, friendship with McClure comes with its own set of occupational hazards.

“I can’t move the stuff myself,” he said. “So when I’m calling friends it’s usually to move something heavy.”

The Horizon Fund is helping to ease the financial burden of starting with materials such as coal and metal and some needed equipment. The money is helping him pursue an avocation he’s interested in and make it – at a minimum – a self-supporting hobby. McClure is most interested in traditional methods and products – such as horseshoes and square nails – but unlike his historical predecessors, he plans to ultimately set up an online store.

“I’m a huge history freak,” McClure said. “I really want to focus on the historical accuracy and items they would have had then.”

The other recipients of Horizon Fund grants in October are:

  • Logan Schrag, sophomore, McPherson, Kan.: “Resurrection Duo” is a Christian inspirational speaking venture, focusing on offering public speaking to high school and college groups on a donations basis. A previous recipient of a grant, the venture has already held evens in four different states.
  • Miranda Clark Ulrich, senior, Russell, Kan.: Offering affordable, professional photography, Clark Ulrich has received grants previously. This grant will allow her to expand her business with the purchase of a wide-angle lens.
  • Alexander Ramsier, freshman, Wooster, Ohio; Aaron Israel, freshman, West End, N.C.; and Mitchell Harms, freshman, Orange Cove, Calif.: These students are working to start an automotive restoration and customization business, with a focus on low-cost, “budget” cars to open this market to more people.
  • Davis Bint, freshman, Glendora, Calif.: Bint is working on a YouTube-based car program featuring unknown car restorers and customizers who have completed impressive work on classic cars that deserve a wider audience. Bint has already been successful on YouTube, making several thousand dollars, and has 6.5 million views on his channel.
  • Andy Fabianski, junior, New Lenox, Ill.: With “Stiches Upholstery,” Fabianski is aiming to create a business installing high-quality trim (automotive interior fabric) with a focus on affordability and customer service. A previous Horizon Fund recipient, this grant will help with marketing and a few tools.
  • Bobby Robertson, junior, Windom, Kan., and Mike Kokmeyer, junior, McPherson, Kan.: With a focus on “nostalgia” cars and finishing “garage projects,” Robertson and Kokmeyer are working to start a car restoration and customization business.
  • Jacob San Martin, sophomore, Perris, Calif.; Adam Mashiach, sophomore, Encino, Calif.; and Zane Luekenga, sophomore, Glenwood, Ark.: These three plan to bring more attention to the motorcycle restoration option within the automotive restoration department by creating a 1910s-era board track racer motorcycle from scratch in time for the C.A.R.S. Club Car Show in the sping. Board tracks were a type of motorsport arena popular in the early 20th century.
  • Andrew Lindstrom, sophomore, Vulcan, Mich.: Lindstrom envisions building a business based on the design and construction of custom motorized bicycles as a form of inexpensive transportation. He will also work to convert regular bicycles to running on electric motors.