The Steven N. Miller Entrepreneurial Scholarships for 2005 were awarded to Lynsey Honegger, Zachary Horn, and Pedro Castaneda for academic success and demonstrating a zealous passion for entrepreneurship. Collectively, the three recipients have a range of experiences and diverse backgrounds.
Collinsville, IL, native and 2005 Finance alumna Lynsey Honegger started her first company before her senior year of college. “It was based on an opportunity I discovered for disc jockeys, photographers, limousine companies, and other wedding vendors to advertise while a bride-to-be is fitted her gown at the bridal shop,” says Honegger, who found profitability in creating advertisements for the vendors and placing them in dressing rooms at certain bridal shops. She now has her eye on a startup venture that involves research in micro-manufacturing that has been done by two graduate students in the University of Illinois College of Engineering. “The product we are planning to market involves a patent-pending technology that allows a precision manufacturing machine to be much smaller than – and up to ten times as inexpensive as – the current machines on the market.”
Zachary Horn, an MBA student at Illinois, acquired his current business, Metro Communications, in 2000. Since its inception, the Champaign-based telecommunications company has experienced exponential growth—it is four times the size it was in 2000. Horn, a native of Sullivan, IL, and undergraduate alumnus of St. Louis University in Missouri, is a born entrepreneur. “I wouldn’t be a very good employee,” says Horn, who also started his first business—a cell-phone maintenance company—before finishing his undergraduate degree. Currently, he and business partner Brian Precious maintain Illini Professional Services (IPS), a consulting firm in Champaign that offers financial insight to startup companies in the area. Along with Metro, Horn sees IPS as an endeavor that will consume most of his time in the future. But don’t think he isn’t looking ahead: “I have a pretty good idea of the profits we’ll [Metro] turn in the next several years.”
Pedro Castaneda came all the way from Mexico to obtain an Illinois MBA. It just so happens that he picked up a $5000 scholarship on his way. A 2001 graduate from the Universidad Panamericana in industrial engineering, Castaneda was a prime candidate for the prize. In 1997, along with his older brother, Castaneda started a swimsuit company in his native Guadalajara. “Six years later we sold the brand name and the operation to the biggest competitor and producer of swimsuits in Guadalajara,” proclaims Castaneda. While undecided about his next venture, he hopes that it will be as special as the one he started with his brother and that it too will be headquartered in Guadalajara. “My future ambition is to start another company in my hometown and keep it for the rest of my life.”
Along with submitting an essay, qualifying contestants for the scholarship had to be full-time, tuition paying students, have a GPA. of at least 3.0, and demonstrate an interest in entrepreneurship through participation in entrepreneurial programs and activities. An award ceremony is being planned for the winners in the near future.
The Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) coordinated the scholarship process. Winners were selected by the College of Business Dean’s Scholarship Committee. CED is a unit of the College that encourages a range of entrepreneurial initiatives on campus and in the region.