This year, the Goshen College business department granted students from a variety of disciplines entrepreneurship grants to further pursue their business ventures.
The business department heard an assortment of different pitches, “Shark Tank” style, but eventually decided upon four businesses to award a total of $18,000. The grants were divided into two venture grants and two experimentation grants.
Maddie Gerig, a junior art major, and Preston Carr, a junior business major, were the two recipients of the venture grants: grants given to those who have already started their own business. Gerig’s work is based in Goshen, under the name “Madeline Gerig Ceramics and Sculpture.”
Gerig’s long-term goal is to become a full-time studio artist within the next ten years, and this grant brings her a step closer. Gerig plans on using her grant to purchase essential materials to expand the scope of her products.
Gerig’s current specialty is beverage glasses for all varieties of drinks. She also takes orders for her new line of “Feminist Mugs” and “Justice Mugs”: people can send pictures and quotes to her, which she then turns into a design.
“I think what really sold my pitch is that I am incredibly passionate about making art and will do it regardless of whether or not I am successful monetarily,” Gerig said. Soon her products will be available at Java Junction, The Electric Brew, Do It Yourself Coffee and Ale Supply.
Preston Carr and his brother, Taylor Carr, launched their hydroseeding company, “The Southdale Hydroseeders,” last summer. Their company, based in Canada, creates grass seed application by combining seed, mulch, fertilizer and water.
Carr has used his venture money to purchase a new truck and update their current application hardware. This has allowed the brothers to expand their business from residential customers in the area. They plan on expanding further into commercial consumers.
In his pitch, Carr stressed how unique and specialized their approach to grass seeding was, and how its influence was growing all over North America. “I needed to make sure that everyone who had a decision in presenting the grant money knew that I was selling my service in Canada. This means that the market is different and the competition is unique to my area,” Carr said.
Mikhail Fernandes, a senior interdisciplinary major, and Brian Sutter and Peter Schrock, seniors, were the recipients of the experimental grants, which will plan on testing their ventures with their earned startup money. Sutter is a physics and informatics double major, and Schrock majors in mathematics.
Fernandes is currently in the process of experimenting with an eCommerce website called “Goshen Marketplace,” straight out of Goshen College.
“Goshen Marketplace will also act as a platform where students can sell other items including artwork, mini-fridges, cycles and other stuff,” Fernandes said. “My venture is a solution that’ll help reduce educational costs. It’s that simple.”
Fernandes also explained that the startup money would be used to build a web platform and for inventory purposes.
In Fernandes’ pitch, he described his previous experience in web development. He also said that he’s already receiving a number of potential customers, though he has not released the website yet.
“I think my experimental venture will shake things up, especially with local and online competitors,” he said. “I’m learning a lot through this process and hope to have the Goshen Marketplace website published within the next couple of weeks.”
Sutter and Schrock are also experimenting in the online business world.
Both of them have plenty of experience in technology and are setting their sights on the growing industry of the monetization of websites.
The two plan on using their grant money to experiment in buying existing websites, earning money through advertising revenue and selling them through an online marketplace. Using Google Analytics, Sutter and Schrock can identify which aspects of the webpage lead to higher webpage value, such as page views and click-through rate.
As of now, the two are considering a broad range of topics to for sites to consider purchasing, but will narrow that range once they consider topics that have the potential for online growth.