Ithaca College has announced a new minor in the School of Business — the entrepreneurship and innovation minor. Entrepreneurship and innovation gives all students, regardless of major, the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship classes, skill sets and networking opportunities.
Students were first given the opportunity to declare the minor starting Fall 2021, and the Class of 2022 will be the first class with students graduating with the minor. The minor is retroactive, meaning that students who have previously taken classes that fit in the minor can apply them toward the minor now that it has been finalized.
There are currently 18 students enrolled in the minor as of Spring 2022 and there were five enrolled during Fall 2021, according to the Office of Analytics and Institutional Research. The entrepreneurship minor has an evidence-based curriculum that emphasizes deliberate practice and strong teaching and mentorship.
Brad Treat, instructor in the Department of Management, said the idea for the entrepreneurship minor came from several discussions with administration and faculty in the School of Business. He said that he has been teaching entrepreneurship since May 2011 at the college and that he noticed about half of the students in his classes came from outside the School of Business.
“I said, ‘Well, hey, we’re already getting entrepreneurship students from outside the School of Business taking entrepreneurship classes, that’s a natural fit for a program that could be cross campus,’” Treat said.
The main goal of the minor, which comprises 18 credits, is to fuel students’ passion for entrepreneurship and teach them entrepreneurial skills like product development and different types of management. Students can choose two entrepreneurship classes from a list of eight and there are four required classes for the minor: Hidden Entrepreneurs, Startup Tactics, Entrepreneurial Innovation and Ideas into Action.
Senior Abhinav Kumar said he first heard about the new entrepreneurship minor from Treat, his adviser, back during Fall 2020 while he was trying to plan for his remaining semesters at the college. He said he was a little shocked he hadn’t heard about the minor before and that he wanted to explore the opportunities the minor could offer him.
“Obviously I’ve heard of entrepreneurship, but for me, I’ve never considered myself as an entrepreneur, but under the right tutelage I was able to understand that, like, I do have certain skills and certain aspects into which I can actually become an entrepreneur,” Kumar said.
Ed Catto, instructor in the Department of Management, said he thinks the minor was needed because it teaches entrepreneurial traits that are important for all walks of life.
“I think as a society we really shifted to embracing this notion of the ‘can-do’ attitude that entrepreneurs bring to the table, and it doesn’t mean that everyone has to go start their own business; it doesn’t mean that everyone has to go on ‘Shark Tank’,” Catto said. “All the skills and all the opportunities that students get from the entrepreneurial minor I think are just fantastic and translatable to so many different things.”
Students interested in entrepreneurship can also get involved in different events on campus, like ITHACON, IC Demo Day and live Pop-Ups, which give students the opportunity to practice their management and networking skills. Different classes in the entrepreneurship minor are linked to these events and help students immerse themselves in the planning aspect of management, but students do not need to be in the minor to participate in these events.
“We try and talk about all the big topics and help students understand the issues and concepts, and then after they do that it’s really time to roll up their sleeves and really embrace and do these things,” Catto said.
Entrepreneurship and student-run businesses have become increasingly popular at the college. Senior Olivia Carpenter runs Via’s Cookies, a successful, independently-run cookie business. During the COVID-19 pandemic, junior Kirsten Hamberg began a business of painting other people’s pets, called Paw Print Paintings. In 2021, senior Sam Williams opened Electric City Axe Throwing, an ax-throwing business in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Junior Robert Zweesaardt said that he declared the minor last semester and that he has a major in integrated marketing communications in the Roy H. Park School of Communications. He said he thinks entrepreneurship pairs well with many different majors at the college.
“I was always interested in doing something related to business and then seeing that they actually had a whole minor offered with an entire program that was outlined was super exciting, because it allowed me to focus in my education more and put it in a more systematic way, like an actual program, so that was really, really nice,” Zweesaardt said.
Zweesaardt said he has been exploring the idea of entrepreneurism since high school because of his interest in business.
“I definitely like doing things that are new or haven’t been done before, that type of idea,” Zweesaardt said. “I also like helping others a lot, it’s a big thing with me, and I think entrepreneurism allows me to do that and that’s kind of why I first got into it.”
Zweesaardt said his experience at Demo Day, an event where students can pitch startup ideas and business plans for funding, has led him to land a job with Tolman Media, a wedding photography company that works with local teams of photographers across the country.
“It was a direct result of this minor and this whole program that I pretty much got the job that I’ve been loving so far,” Zweesaardt said.