For most people, going from owning a multimillion-dollar company, to owning a lemonade stand sounds like regression, but for Michael Holthouse it was the culmination of a dream. Holthouse was founder and president of Paranet, Inc., a computer network services company that grew in six years to 27 offices, 1600 employees and revenues in excess of $100 million. When Holthouse sold Paranet to Sprint in 1997, he refocused his talents on philanthropy, investments, and community involvement including helping youngsters learn entrepreneurship by selling lemonade.

Michael Holthouse

In light of his accomplishments, Holthouse will be recognized by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School with the Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. Given in honor of C.W. and Dorothy Conn of Conn’s Appliances, this annual award is presented to a successful business leader that exemplifies entrepreneurial vision as well as managerial insight and business acumen. The award presentation and a lecture by Holthouse will take place at 10:20-11:10 a.m. on March 24 in 113 Wehner.

Not only does Holthouse donate his resources, but he also donates his time by setting up philanthropies such as Prepared 4 Life, which, according to its website, “prepares middle school youth for life through fun, proactive and experiential after-school programs infused with life skills, character education and entrepreneurship.”

Among his various philanthropies and community outreaches, Holthouse has started a nationwide event called Lemonade Day, hosted by Prepared 4 Life that gives youth an opportunity to experience entrepreneurship firsthand. Holthouse’s program provides participants with a handbook outlining how to run a successful business (how to approach investors, where to set up shop, how to sell the product, etc.); it also provides participants with their very own lemonade stands. Lemonade Day encourages community involvement and gives its participants the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship in a real-world setting.

Bryan/College Station children operated 250 stands for Lemonade Day 2009. Lenae Huebner, assistant director of the CNVE, says that as part of the Conn Award recognition, she hopes to raise awareness about the program so that next year more young people in the area participate. As a point of reference, she mentioned that last year in the Houston area there were 27,000 Lemonade Day stands. This year that number may swell to more than 50,000, while the program will be adding 11 new metropolitan areas, including Dallas and San Antonio.

For more information on the Conn Award, presentation, and lecture, contact Huebner at

To learn more about Prepared 4 Life’s Lemonade Day, visit