Vol. 19, No. 31
May 18, 2000
James O'Neill, director of UD's Family Business Center, has developed a new course, "The Economics of Family Business," to share his expertise and experience in the field with undergraduates.
"In the first part of the course, we review the economics way of thinking--looking at issues, assessing potential benefits relative to potential costs and evaluating the market in an economics framework," O'Neill said.
As one of the course requirements, students enrolled are learning by doing--creating, organizing and carrying out a "business for a day" to get actual experience. "Students can work individually, in pairs or teams of three, and may invest $25 in start-up expenses for their one-day business and should show a profit at the end of their project," O'Neill said.
The range of activities reflects the ingenuity and inventiveness of the class.
"C.R." Miller a sophomore from Wallingford, Pa., whose family owns a wholesale and retail greenhouse, organized a flag football tournament with his partner, Mike Goodhart. The two sent out flyers and e-mail messages, lined up a field for the tournament, engaged referees and ended up with four teams registered.
Alex D'Angelo, a senior from Villanova, Pa., and Mike Nieliwocki, a senior from Princeton, N.J., surveyed Newark businesses and decided which ones had names that would lend themselves to the Internet. They then registered the names, getting exclusive rights to the name for a period of time. They then resell the names to the business owners to increase their commercial presence online.
"The hands-on experience gives you much more than just theory from a book," D'Angelo said. His partner agreed, adding that actually starting up a business teaches you methods of doing things and changes your perspective.
Other projects included a bagel delivery service on campus, a computer repair business, van transportation service and a car wash.
Another unique component of the class is an electronic link with the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Nova Scotia, whose function is to help businesses start up and which has clients in Canada, the United States and Europe.
"Thanks to Kathy Troutman [Information Technologies] and her staff, we were able to link up with this organization, which is knowledgeable about start-up problems, venture funds, pricing strategies and other factors involved in starting a new business. The class can interact with the speakers, who are professionals in the field," O'Neill said.
"They work with the students on projects, such as the assignment to develop different ways of using shoulder pads and coming up with a marketing and business plan," O'Neill said.
Miller said this part of the class worked well. "There is a big TV screen, and we each have microphones and are connected with the center in real time so there is discussion and instant feedback," he said
O'Neill also calls upon local successful entrepreneurs to talk to the class as well. Rich and Bernie Kenney, who own local Shop-Rite stores; Chris Tigani, NKS distributor; and Frank Ursomarso, president of Union Park Inc. have shared their business experiences with the class.
Thomas Becker and Scott Wycoff, both business administration, talked to the class as well.
"In developing this course, I have used a variety of sources and have included some real-life challenges for the students to make them aware of what is involved in entrepreneurship," O'Neill said.
Student reaction has been positive. "I'd definitely recommend this course--the class, the projects and speakers motivate you and get you involved," D'Angelo said.