Feature Profile

Marketplace Mavens

By Bruce F. McKinnon, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of Small Business Institute

How do you recognize Entrepreneurship students at Lasell College? They are likely to be the undergrads reading The Wall Street Journal online, a requirement, along with a brief, for class review at the beginning of each session.

Entrepreneurship writ large is often defined as "the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources currently controlled." Yet, many studies indicate that entrepreneurs have only a 30% success rate.  Given those odds, the goal of the Lasell Entrepreneurship program is to prepare students to take well-calculated risks by identifying profitable opportunities with modest initial resources. Today, there are over 40 Entrepreneurship majors and some 20 Entrepreneurship minors at the College.

Entrepreneurship is really the blending of two major  skill-sets:  

  • Building a general manager's toolkit with broad knowledge of a business: new product development, team building, sales to alpha and beta customers, legal and intellectual property rights, cost accounting and profitability analysis. This inspires a student to think across several disciplines and with a generalist perspective; the goal is simultaneously simple and difficult: Go to Market!  
  • Thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. Lasell's Entrepreneurship classes are held in a boardroom setting. Students face each other around a conference table, their analysis/spreadsheets projected onscreen for discussion and review at each class. There is significant emphasis on daily class participation/discussion. Course work consists of case studies of actual businesses drawn from Wharton, Stanford and Harvard Business Schools. Often, the case studies are ripped from the headlines: a montage of articles, video clips and data references in which a student is asked to deconstruct a situation and clarify insights supported by analytics.

Underlying each case study is the imperative of cash burn-with very limited resources, often support from family and friends and a constant vigilance of sales and expenses. Students experience this sense of urgency through the cases, online simulations and speaker presentations.            

Each Entrepreneurship student's academic curricula includes a face-to-face interview with a real-life entrepreneur based on open-ended questions developed during the semester. Another feature of the curricula is a one-on-one discussion with the professor concerning a biography of a prominent entrepreneur, ranging from Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future to Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products.

In a Lasell Entrepreneurship classroom, there often can be found students who already have plunged into the marketplace. Students like Shane McNeil '17, the co-founder of Cape 15 (www.capefifteen.com), a Cape Cod-themed apparel company celebrating all 15 towns on the Massachusetts peninsula. And Alejandra Carrero '18, the founder of FutureWear (www.futurewear.com), an online marketplace dedicated to sustainable fashion.

Commenting on his experience as an Entrepreneurship major, McNeil tells Leaves, "the Business department professors are able to link their remarkable backgrounds to classroom conversations which allows students like me to learn on a broader level, rather than strictly from textbooks." The senior adds, "that's Lasell's Connected Learning philosophy in action."

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