By Jair Hernandez
On Dec. 14, the Goshen College business department announced that four student businesses would be awarded entrepreneurship grants totaling $15,500. Students have been working with the business department for a whole year to receive these grants and will continue to work with the business department as they expand their businesses.
The four businesses and five students that received grant money include Niles Graber Miller, a junior, and Hans Weaver, a senior, who own Cultural Ventures LLC, the company that produces Menno Tea; Caleb Hochstetler, a senior, who is starting up a business that will focus on developing mobile applications; Emma Gerig, a junior, who received the grant to pursue her business illustrating children books; and Billy Frisbie, a senior, whose business Entertaining Angels specializes on concert reinforcement by providing lighting, recording and sound assistance to artists.
This round of recipients represents the latest batch of students to receive funding in the form of an entrepreneurship grant. In the last three years alone the business department has awarded over $50,000 to 14 different student businesses.
This year students had to participate in a year-long process to receive the grant, a change from previous years. Since the contest allows students from all majors to apply, the business department saw it fit to expand the process in order to help the student entrepreneurs become successful. Michelle Horning, business department chair, described some of the recent changes in the program.
“We did a series of one-hour classes for everybody who was applying and we did that over the month of October,” Horning said. “Each week was a different theme so we talked about marketing one week, we talked about finance, we talked about operations and all different components as a way to provide some of that educational component.”
Students prepared in the fall to pitch their ideas last December, and from there the business department chose who would receive the grants. The business department looks at a lot of different components when choosing the recipients. This process includes figuring out things like whether the student is passionate about their business and whether they understand what it means to run a business, among other factors.
Grant recipients will have to continue working with the business department to continue developing their business and to draw from the experience of the faculty in the business department.
“It provides some accountability on our part; we’ve just given them a bunch of money to spend, and we want to make sure that they are as successful as possible, so we keep that connection this semester,” said Horning.
Students interested in applying next year will be required to take a class for credit in the fall called Venture Planning in which aspiring entrepreneurs will work together on their business plans along with other students and the help of the business faculty.