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Entrepreneurship curriculum encourages creativity, innovation, leadership
Angelo Mastrangelo, adjunct assistant professor, teaches an entrepreneurship class
In a national economy in which unemployment remains around 8 percent, the entrepreneurship curriculum at Binghamton University is teaching students to lead by thinking about the kinds of jobs they want to create, not just the types of jobs they want to get.
The Ray and Wanda Osterhout Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship provided the vision and funding to build an entrepreneurship focus for students, says Upinder Dhillon, dean of the School of Management. Using support from the endowment, the school employs Angelo Mastrangelo, an adjunct assistant professor, and Tony Frontera, '75, MBA '80, a lecturer.
"I ask the students, 'When you graduate, can you become a CEO?' The answer is yes," Mastrangelo says. "We help them learn the process of how to create commerce. Some of them will become entrepreneurs, but it takes a special person."
According to the teachers, that process includes demonstrating leadership, creativity and innovative thinking, as well as recognizing and creating opportunities — skills that benefit both successful business owners and employees in a range of fields.
"A lot of students are excited about the notion of owning their own business," says Frontera. "A lot of people have ideas. But how do you turn that into a profitable business? They want to learn more about how to do it."
Mastrangelo and Frontera — both former business owners — "bring theory and practice together" for students, Dhillon says. Mastrangelo owned Adirondack Beverages, based in Scotia, N.Y. Frontera owned Tuthill's Photo, Audio and Video in Vestal, N.Y.
The result of their teachings has been business startups launched by students (and later alumni) that have not only survived but also grown, Dhillon says.
"I sold the business I started in college and within four years of graduating I had successfully created and managed three profitable businesses," says Alec Hess '09, who majored in management with a concentration in entrepreneurship. "The idea of becoming an entrepreneur came directly from my experience (at Binghamton). ... The creative opportunity and real-life impact of starting a business were far greater than anything else I had ever done. I became hooked."
Armed with Mastrangelo's opportunity model for gauging the viability of a business venture, Hess won a School of Management business plan competition with his ideas for NotePig.com, a "place to buy and sell your notes." He sold the business's technology to a competitor soon after graduating.
Some of Hess' current ventures include Full Voice Media, an online marketing and design solutions business he launched in 2010. He's also CEO of BizSaves, which he co-founded in 2011. BizSaves offers online information and deals on services to grow businesses. Both businesses are based in New York.
"The entrepreneurship course helped me to stop just thinking about starting a business and actually get out there and do it," Hess says. "The very best way to learn is to try."
About the donors
Raymond Osterhout and his wife, Wanda, made a $1 million gift in 2004 to establish the Ray and Wanda Osterhout Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship.
Raymond Osterhout, LHD '08, a retired insurance executive, died in 2009 at the age of 78. He was a judge and mentor for the School of Management's business plan competitions and served on the management school's Dean's Advisory Board.
The Osterhouts graduated from high school in Windsor, N.Y., about 30 miles from the University.