Topic: International Education

February 13, 2007

Ball State plans to honor three businesses owners who started out with little more than a great idea mixed with grit and determination — the type of creativity, drive and passion its Entrepreneurship Center strives to instill in its students.

One of the three entrepreneurs will be honored with The Ascent Award March 3 during ceremonies at the Conrad Indianapolis. The finalists include entrepreneurs who transformed soap making, plastics recycling and worm waste management into successful companies.

"Being an entrepreneur is not just about starting your own business, it's also about helping people," said Larry Cox, director of Ball State's Entrepreneurship Center. "All of the people we chose created a business that will ultimately help the greater good."

The selection process for The Ascent Award began with a nationwide search for entrepreneurs who embodied the essence of Ball State's Entrepreneurship Center. Undergraduate students then selected the three finalists. The award recipient will be chosen just prior to the ceremony by a group of Ball State entrepreneurship alumni. 

Finalists include:

  •  Amilya Antonetti, who started her business after household cleaning products caused allergic reactions in her infant son. She created a line of hypoallergenic cleaning products that quickly became popular and now her business, SoapWorks, pulls in more than $10 million annually.
  • Michael Biddle took his vision for a cleaner world and built a recycling plant in his two-car garage, selling recycled plastic taken from junked electronics and automobiles. Now MBA Polymers Inc., based in Richmond, Calif., is the world's most advanced recycler of plastics used in durable goods. More information may be found at
  • Tom Szaky started his venture, TerraCycle of Trenton, N.J, producing a plant food derived from organic waste that is fed to worms; the resulting excrement is then liquefied and packaged in used soda bottles. His fertilizer is now sold by Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Whole Foods. More information may be found at

For more information on the contest, go to