The SUNY Oswego School of Business has launched a new entrepreneurship minor, building on students' strong efforts in business plan competitions, their work with Oswego-area companies and other indicators of interest across a variety of disciplines on campus.

The minor's core courses in entrepreneurial management, innovation and creativity, along with traditional business functions such as marketing and sales, accounting and funding seek to lay a solid foundation for students who aim to take part in opportunities for business startups. 

Aaron Shopland, whose idea for a new shark repellent propelled him and fellow junior marketing major Michael York to first place in the School of Business' signature Launch It competition this year, said that if he has already taken enough of the core courses, he may be able to declare the minor in time for his 2020 graduation.

Shopland came up with his idea for a sensory-based repellent involving magnetic waves as he watched "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel. He took MGT 261 "Business Organization" with Larry Maher of the marketing and management faculty, later serving as a teaching assistant in the course two other times; he now takes MGT 350 "Entrepreneurship" with Sarfraz Mian, chair of marketing and management and coordinator of the entrepreneurship minor.

"I think it would be awesome to have the minor," Shopland said. "I'd like to see other students have it in the future, as well."

Alexa Kosloski, a junior marketing major, belongs to the Oswego chapter of Enactus -- Entrepreneurial Action by University Students. Co-project manager with fellow student Dakota Johnson for an Enactus venture called Refresh that consults with Oswego businesses, Kosloski also sees herself as a potential candidate for the new minor.

"I just enjoy throwing myself out there and seeing what happens," she said, noting that revenue from Refresh's sale of Chelle's Bake Shop cookies at Laker hockey games went to assist local high schools.

The interest among Oswego students, and the support of the college, has been evident in having four teams take part in the Compete CNY business competition in March -- with one advancing to the New York Business Plan Competition with its Nero water tracking/conservation app concept -- as well as healthy participation in Oswego's annual Launch It competition.

Skills, flexibility

Mian's scholarship on entrepreneurism globally has earned him "most-cited" recognition several times among researchers whose studies have contributed to peer-reviewed articles on business incubation and acceleration. He's thrilled with the advent of the new minor.

"Any young person who doesn't have an entrepreneurial mindset is going to miss a lot in today's economy," Mian said. "Many of today's youth are ambitious, have a lot of varied skills and want flexibility in their careers."

Yes, he said, there has been publicity for entrepreneurs who have dropped out of school to take a leap into a startup business -- but he said that his research and experience have shown a vastly superior success rate for entrepreneurs who are well trained.

"Education (in entrepreneurship) helps inculcate important things: the entrepreneurial mindset -- the ability to identify and seize upon a business opportunity -- and the skills to pull in resources, such as persuasion, marketing and the tools used to win entrepreneurial competitions and seek funding sources," he said.

Other courses applicable to the minor are "Creativity and Innovation," "Entrepreneurship Marketing and Sales" and basic business courses. There's also a required capstone project.

Strong platform

Sophomore business administration major Ally Burdgick said she has her sights set on event planning, an undertaking whose success could be amplified by foundational work in the entrepreneurship minor.

"That minor would help me know a lot more once I got out of college," she said. "I want to start my own business and make other people happy. I'm very organized. Having a platform (of entrepreneurial knowledge and experience) would be very helpful."

Fabio Machado, completing his first year in SUNY Oswego's strategic communication graduate program, said a student doesn't have to be a business major to express an interest in the new minor and to play a vital role in startup businesses.

Machado partners with several other Brazilians in an app called Charta -- which locates authentic cultural experiences for travelers -- and plans to return to Rio de Janeiro to work full time on the venture. His project reached the finals in Oswego County's entrepreneurial Next Great Idea competition and he went on to present it at Compete CNY in Syracuse. 

"A lot of things I learned for these competitions, I learned on the run," he said. "If I had the academic background, it would have helped."

Mian, who is a national team leader and principal investigator in the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) program, said his research on entrepreneurship at SUNY Oswego shows strong interest in entrepreneurism, especially among students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields looking for training to participate in high-tech businesses.

"The minor could become very useful for our students to fulfill their entrepreneurial ambitions," he said.

For information on all offerings of the AACSB-accredited SUNY Oswego School of Business, visit, call 315-312-2272 or email