Management class paves way for new C&F minor

Justin Runquist

Last fall, 17 junior and senior C&F students became entrepreneurs, profitable business managers and philanthropists all in one semester. As part of a new business project for Small Business Management, a course taught by Dr. James Klingler, students had the opportunity to start and grow a profitable T-shirt business.

While Klingler’s class was in session, the college was considering the possibility of an entrepreneurship minor, with a vital component being a semester-long business project. The students were so successful as “guinea pigs” for the project, in fact, that they demonstrated that an entrepreneurship minor and practicum would thrive at C&F. The class also donated all profits to Freedom From Hunger, a charity that provides micro-loans to women in third-world countries.

“All in all, this was a great experience,” Klingler said. “Because we never tried this before, we honestly went into this doubting it could work. But without question, it was a chance to learn by doing.”

With the exception of a $1,000 grant to start, the class project was entirely student-run. Throughout the semester, they worked together to develop their product idea, elect officers, set rules for conducting business, hold in-class meetings each week and actually advertise and sell their product on campus, just as an actual company would.

According to Klingler, the students even agreed to receive grades based on project evaluations from each other.

“It was a quite a long process for us to decide on a business to run,” said senior Jillian Magee, who was a class co-treasurer for the project.

“We really wanted something that would maintain our interest and be something that all of us could participate in.”

The students agreed to support the men’s basketball program and head coach Jay Wright by creating shirts bearing the message, “The Price is Wright.” Early on, the class ran into typical business dilemmas such as a difficult supplier relationship, a lost check in the mail and Wright’s initial disapproval of the idea. Students also said they learned the importance of effective marketing research and advertising.

The class broke even immediately by selling 85 shirts as part of their prepaid order plan, but the class’s “guerrilla marketing” campaign helped make the shirt more popular than the students imagined. Students dressed up in a bunny suit and advertised shirts leading up to Midnight Mania. Overall, the class sold 216 shirts and generated $894.11 in profit.

“I learned firsthand how difficult it is to start a small business,” senior Dariusz Jamiolkowski, who served as class CFO said.

“I also saw how rewarding and fun it can be. Dr. Klingler’s class was a great experience for those who gave their best effort.”

Other class officers included senior Kieran Dunn, CEO, senior Matthew Demchek, co-treasurer, and junior Hillary Cole, secretary.

“This was a wonderful experience to develop our management skills to work with and through each other towards a positive result,” Dunn said.

The class also attempted two other businesses during the semester: an American flag business and a student trip to Atlantic City, N.J.

The highlight of the class, however, was the successful T-shirt business. Their $800 in profits translated into loans of $75 each for 113 women in third-world countries under the charity Freedom for Hunger.

“These 17 students learned how to be entrepreneurial, but in countries like the ones we helped, the women are entrepreneurial just to survive and feed their families,” Klingler said.

“That charity was really consistent with what the course is all about.”

For more information about the entrepreneurship minor or Small Business Management class, contact the Department of Management at x9-6924.