Classroom Path To Entrepreneurship

The New York Times:

The college campus, it turns out, can be an ideal incubator for hatching small businesses.

Nanina’s Gourmet Sauce, a pasta sauce company based in Belleville, N.J., was started, for instance, in 2005 by students taking an entrepreneurship course at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.

Nanina’s products are now sold in nearly 400 supermarkets and gourmet shops in New Jersey and Manhattan, and the company’s director of operations is 23-year-old Nick Massari, a student in that class.

The course at Monmouth is one of thousands of similar offerings on campuses across the United States. Undergraduate courses in how to start and run a small business are becoming as ubiquitous as Economics 101. Gone is the conventional wisdom that running a small business cannot be learned by sitting in a classroom.

According to the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., more than 2,000 colleges and universities now offer at least a class and often an entire course of study in entrepreneurship. That is up from 253 institutions offering such courses in 1985. More than 200,000 students are enrolled in such courses, compared with 16,000 in 1985.

“What you have today are people who have to think about their careers in a way you didn’t before,” said Tom Tremblay, president and chief executive of the Guardair Corporation, a small manufacturer in Chicopee, Mass. “So it’s essential that people learn how to manage and run and participate in small companies. Small business can be taught, and it needs to be taught.”

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Photo by Sylwia Kapuscinski.

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