Students Receive Start-Up Funds for Business Ventures

HIGH POINT, N.C., April 1, 2019 – Four High Point University students are getting a financial boost to help move their businesses forward. The HPU grant, Pagon Family Promising Entrepreneur Fund, is a major gift from Leonard and Kata Pagon that supports students in developing their business plans. This year’s grant awards total $5,500.

The Pagon Fund is designed to provide real-world experience for HPU undergraduates to foster innovation and increase the probability of success. Through a competitive application process, it also provides students with direct exposure to mentors, investors and other capital providers.

The Pagons, from Novelty, Ohio, are entrepreneurs in their own right. Leonard Pagon is the CEO of Next Sparc LLC, and Kata Pagon is a successful optometrist. Their son, Michael, is a graduate of HPU.

“Since the first round of grant funds were awarded in 2016, 20 students have received funding to advance business ideas,” says Kathy Elliott, director of HPU’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship. “This is a critical funding source for a young entrepreneur to be able to validate whether they are on the right track with their business concept or whether it is time to make changes.”   

A faculty committee considers applicants annually for the fund.

Viktoria Heiser, a senior business administration major, received a grant to help develop prototypes for her business, Easy Brush. The idea takes the task of brushing teeth and makes it possible for anyone who may find it to be a ‘not so simple’ task, such as people with arthritis, missing limbs, visually impaired and children. This is an innovation on the idea of a push button toothpaste-dispensing toothbrush. Heiser is in the initial stages of filing a provisional patent on the element that actually dispenses the toothpaste into the brush. The brush resembles an electric toothbrush where the cylinder handle will hold the paste. A simple press of a button will release the measured amount of paste on the bristles. 

Olivia Elsaesser, a freshman sales major, received a grant to build a prototype of Smart Lex. Smart Lex is a tool that can be downloaded on a computer to help those dealing with dyslexia to make reading comprehension possible. The online tool will allow the user to move their mouse over text they are trying to read. It then creates a ‘pop-up’ of the words. This tool uses the science of color overlays that have been shown to work for some forms and levels of dyslexia.




Anthony Capece, a sophomore entrepreneurship major, received a grant to create a prototype of his idea, Ace Footwear. The product will offer interchangeable soles that will change the function of your shoes. This design of the shoes will appeal to people who travel and don’t wish to carry as many pairs of shoes. Initial rigid prototypes have been created and shown at various events. Funding will help create a new prototype that features a more flexible material and file a provisional patent.



Dylan Silber, a senior entrepreneurship and sales double major, has received past grants to fund a prototype for his PongPro idea. The patent-pending practice game table helps users become skilled at playing the game, but without the alcohol. This game has the ability to compete with corn hole at parties, during tailgating and in game rooms across America.

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