This was the essay prompt: Pitch us a business plan for an exciting new venture you think would be profitable.
Paulina Hervas Tweeted:
We received scores of essays from bright students across the country, but Paulina set herself apart with our favorite essay and business plan, as determined by the scoring criteria set out in our official scholarship rules.
Through email, Paulina was kind enough to answer some questions for us about her essay and herself. Read on to learn more about last year’s winner. If you're interested, you can apply for 2017’s scholarship right now.
Lendza: How did you first hear about Lendza’s “Better Than A Loan” scholarship?
Paulina: I wanted to apply for scholarships in order to help my parents pay for my college tuition. I learned about Lendza’s “Better than a Loan” program through the scholarship website, ‘Unigo’ and decided to submit my application.
Lendza: Tell us about your thought process as you built out your plan for a new business, starting with when you first thought of the idea, and then how it evolved from there.
Paulina: Initially I would come up with what I considered good business ideas, however, I later found out that the businesses already existed. Then I discovered an app called ‘Recharge’, which lets you rent hotel rooms by the minute for whenever you need to rest or do something that required peace and quiet. I found myself questioning the need for the app because in reality, many people don’t really need a fancy hotel room to stay in if all they need was a place to sleep. Some would be comfortable with just staying on a couch, a bed, or even just a room at someone’s apartment. I wished that the app worked with cheaper sleeping alternatives, such as the services that Couch Surfer and Air BnB offer, was as flexible as the website 'Craigslist', and at the same time was as efficient as Uber’. That’s when I realized I had come up with a good business idea by bringing them all together into a new app, and that’s also when the whole conceptualization of Siesta started.
Lendza: Are you going to launch “Siesta” anytime soon?
Paulina: I would launch Siesta if I had enough starting capital and knew enough programmers I could trust, but as of now, it’s just an idea. I am currently looking into start up competitions I could maybe join in the future.
Lendza: Your business idea was app-based. What are some of your favorite apps?
Paulina: One of the apps I love is VSCO because I enjoy quickly editing the photos I take through my iPhone. I also like the app Venmo, which allows you to send money straight from your bank account to another person’s account. Venmo has made it much easier for me to pay people I owe money. I also enjoy Instagram because I use it to keep tabs on my friends abroad.
Lendza: In your opinion, what are some of the best new business ideas of the decade so far?
Paulina: I really think Uber and Lyft are some of the greatest businesses of our decade so far. I think the originality of their business plans could open up other business ventures in other industries too.
Lendza: What do you think sets the successful visionaries apart?
Paulina: I think the traits that set the successful visionaries apart is that they are able to see the inconveniences we have in society and are able to find and develop solutions. They don’t just act impulsively on their business ideas, instead they make sure that every move they make on their business idea is calculated and well planned.
Lendza: Do you have any other great business ideas you’d be willing to share?
Paulina: As of now, I don’t have any more unique business ideas that haven’t already been started! Oftentimes though, I find myself having fleeting thoughts about business ideas but then I realize that my first duty is to finish college first.
Lendza: What kind of a degree are you pursuing? What do you plan to do with your education?
Paulina: I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at Interior Designers Institute. When I’m done with my bachelor’s degree, I plan to work for a design firm, and then later open my own concept design firm. I am also considering a masters or associates degree in business, architecture, or engineering. Also, I plan to learn basic programming language for future use.
Lendza: What are some of your other interests and hobbies?
Paulina: During my free time I like to hang out with my family, read up on the news, read books, watch movies, and work out. Occasionally I find myself singing and playing the guitar or looking through Pinterest and Tumblr.
Lendza: As a scholarship winner, what advice would you have for those aiming to impress with their scholarship essays?
Paulina: For scholarships such as Lendza’s “Better Than A Loan”, my best suggestion is to thoroughly do your research before putting your idea down on paper. Before writing my business plan, I made sure that my concept about Siesta was truly unique. Also, I made sure that my grammar was correct. I had someone else proofread my essay for typos and spelling errors before submitting it. Last but not least, I made sure that the thoughts on my essay were organized. I read through my paper over and over again, making sure that each idea I presented had follow up sentences that expanded the idea and supported it.