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Horizon Fund at McPherson College Helps Record Number of Students Pursue Their Entrepreneurial Ideas

Horizon Fund recipients at McPherson College are the very definition of “entrepreneur”: creative people who solve problems in an innovative way.

This fall, Horizon Fund recipients presented a record number of ideas to solve problems in the world around them – everything online dating scams to a lack of authentic Mexican candy in the area to people washing their cars the wrong way. The college funded a total of 23 ideas from 23 students in the latest round of grants – about twice that of the previous set of grants in spring 2016.

Since it was introduced in 2010, the fund has given hundreds of grants of up to $500 to McPherson College students to explore making their dreams a reality.

Among the recipients in this round was Jonathan Cox, a freshman from Miami, Fla., who is starting his own car-washing business in McPherson named after his father’s establishment in Florida – “Beauty Buffers.” His business stands out a standard automatic wash or a self-service station, he said, because most car wash businesses do it wrong.

“Most people use soap. My dad and I don’t,” he said. “The reason is it leaves a film that attracts dirt.”

In addition, Cox gives careful, personal attention to each wash – hand-cleaning the vehicles and even making the rubber walls of the tires gleam with a special “tire dressing.”

Cox said he appreciates what the Horizon Fund encourages in him – an entrepreneurial mindset and the freedom to run his own business and set his own hours.

“I think it appeals to people to try new things,” he said. “The college gives students the opportunity to experience new things and see what might interest them.”

Matt Goist, senior, Navarre, Ohio, and Corey Long, senior, McPherson, Kan., plan to create a social campaign to raise awareness about online dating scams. For Goist, in particular, this is a cause that hits home – he was nearly a victim of one such scheme.

“It was very stressful,” Goist said. “I like to think I’m not a naïve person, but the first 30 to 45 minutes – it really scares you. We want to avoid others potentially falling into this.”

Dr. Ken Yohn, professor of history and a member of the Horizon Fund committee, praised Goist and Long for their concept.

“I think your idea meets one of our goals of social entrepreneurship and helping the community,” he said.

Felix Cervantes, a junior from Salinas, Calif., found inspiration in a sweet tooth and a nostalgia for the Mexican candy that he grew up enjoying.

“It just brings me back home,” he said. “The taste of it reminds me of where I come from.”

With few local or regional stores carrying these imported treats, Cervantes sees an opportunity to develop an untapped customer market. He has plenty of friends who also grew up with (and now have a craving for) candy such as “Rebanaditas” – a watermelon-flavored lollipop coated in chili powder.

In addition, he thinks people will be interested in discovering treats that are new to them, especially because Mexican candy tends toward an interesting blend of sweet and spicy. Eventually, he wants to expand into other areas of Mexican goodies, such as bread, fruit, even a popular street food in Mexico called “elote” – corn on the cob garnished with blends that can include chili powder, lemon or lime juice, cheese and sour cream.

Cervantes said he doesn’t think he’d have explored his entrepreneurial idea as seriously if it wasn’t for the Horizon Fund.

“That’s how small businesses start – with one idea,” he said. “From there, you can keep growing & growing.”

Abigayle Morgan, a sophomore from Lansing, Ill., loves working with her hands. To scratch that itch, last summer she started a business called “Old Crank Outlaws.” The venture is about creative home décor reminiscent of Prohibition-era America.

Using vintage found objects, reclaimed wood, and even canning jars, she makes everything from knick-knacks to full-size benches and other furniture to pinstriped decorations (thanks to her boyfriend, Lane Sutterby, a sophomore from Savonburg, Kan., who helps with the venture).

She’s been able to take her work to fairs at a profit, but what she’s enjoyed the most is making connections with other artists and crafters.

“There’s this whole following and culture around vintage markets,” she said. “The people are the best part.”

Without the Horizon Fund, though, she might never have dared to take the first steps toward creating Old Crank Outlaws. It allowed her to make it the focus for her summer work to earn money, rather than just a hobby.

“It’s really nice to have a college that gives you the opportunity to have your own idea and go with it,” she said.

The other recipients of a Horizon Fund grant in this round are:

  • Phil Reinhardt, sophomore, Tenants Harbor, Maine: Expand an independent Amsoil dealership, selling especially to McPherson College automotive restoration students who need the high-quality specialty oil for their classic and antique cars.
  • Micah Gilbert, freshman, Elkhart, Ind.: Continue to explore and expand his interest in photography as a career and hobby. Gilbert plans to use the funds to help pay for a new camera lens.
  • Monica Ewy, senior, Halstead, Kan.: A previous recipient of the Horizon Fund, Ewy plans to continue expanding her “Memory Catcher” photography business, focusing on automotive enthusiasts. She plans to use funds for frames at her senior show as well as digital storage.
  • Danielle Chapman, freshman, Amarillo, Texas: Chapman is creating T-shirt designs, with the intention of using proceeds to help students in need with items they can’t afford, such as groceries or clothing. Funds will go to marketing, packaging, and website development.
  • Ramon Martinez, senior, San Antonio, Texas: Martinez is a photographer who plans to make a business of selling photos to MC athletes and their families. Rather than standard portrait shots, however, he wants to capture the in-game moments of a winning shot or a touchdown pass.
  • Jacob San Martin, junior, Perris, Calif.: With a steady hand and an artist’s eye, San Martin is keeping an old art form vibrant – pinstriping. He’s planning a business to add pinstriping to hot rods and custom vehicles, as well as providing lettering and gold leaf services.
  • Tyler Depperschmidt, freshman, Wichita, Kan.: With a business called “Treehouse Clothing,” Depperschmidt plans to create T-Shirts with designs that offer nostalgia for the freedom and joy of childhood.
  • Kylee Martin, freshman, Colby, Kan.: Martin wants to create a dance studio on campus, focusing on families with children ages 5 to 16. Classes may include ballet, jazz, tap, or Zumba. The Horizon Fund grant will help with a sound system, promotion and materials for classes.
  • Corey Long, senior, McPherson, Kan.: Millennials have value to offer the working world, and Long wants to highlight that with a new collaborative blog and podcast website. The plan is to help people of his generation to help and encourage each other in realizing their dreams.
  • Nathaniel Buckler, junior, La Grange, Ill.: Seeing a need for affordable, reliable, and quick automotive service work, Buckler is planning to start his own car shop serving the McPherson area. The grant will help with shop materials, including a new car jack and a locking cabinet.
  • Barrett “Bear” Breitenbucher, junior, La Grange, Ill.: Rusty Peach Restoration is already an existing business for Breitenbucher, offering everything from oil changes to full restorations. He is now working to raise the professional look of Rusty Peach, with business cards, a business sign, and branded work shirts.
  • Eli Minson, freshman, Topeka, Kan.: With “Kicksclusive,” Minson plans to start up a local sneaker shop with a focus on limited edition and exclusive shoes to appeal to fashion-conscious consumers, collectors, and “sneaker-heads.”
  • Jordyn Lipe, senior, Hutchinson, Kan.: Bees are a critical part of agricultural ecosystems, as they are important pollinators in addition to providing honey. Lipe plans to help stave off the phenomenon of “hive collapse” with bee-friendly gardens on campus as well as “bee hotels” that would offer nesting habitat for wild populations.
  • Jared Whitten, senior, Topeka, Kan.: Whitten is developing his mobile DJing company to provide music and entertainment for event of all kinds. While he’s focused on Hip Hop and R&B styles, he plans to meet the needs of each client with a variety of genres.
  • Jared Thurston, sophomore, Wichita, Kan.: Working on vintage cars is Thurston’s plan, offering everything from basic maintenance to more involved restorations at an affordable rate. The grant will help him to expand his shop equipment and tools.
  • Austin Ehret, senior, Cape Neddick, Maine: Ehret plans to serve the motorcycle enthusiast, building one-of-a-kind custom bikes as well as parts made to order for a particular need. The grant will help him with purchasing shop equipment.
  • Jeromy Denton, senior, Mesa, Ariz.: Denton says “I live with a camera on me,” and is working on a photography business focused on serving “outdoorsy” people such as hunters and fishers. He also plans to shoot weddings and other life events. The grant will help him with a new lens and business cards.
  • Channing Wall, senior, McPherson, Kan.: Wall wants to help create a common marketplace where crafty and creative people can come together to share and sell their products – similar to Etsy or the planned “Mac Marketplace” at MC.
  • Allie Hicks, senior, Keller, Texas: This is the second Horizon Fund grant that Hicks has received for her campus and community campaign called “I Respect You” – designed to foster understanding and respect among different groups, especially in areas of controversy.

To learn more about entrepreneurship at McPherson College, visit