President Barron visits entrepreneurship class, offers brainstorming insights

Alison Kuznitz
September 27, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students enrolled in MGMT 215 Entrepreneurial Mindset are on a mission to continuously refine an idea until it can be transformed into a successful startup.

A single burst of inspiration won’t cut it — the idea has to withstand multiple tests of feasibility.

“The first step is to begin to take your idea through an analytical process and think through external factors,” said Erik Foley, a clinical faculty member in management and organization and the director of sustainability in the Smeal College of Business. “Is it doable? Is it solving a problem that customers think about?”

In a recent class, students separated into small groups and completed an “opportunity assessment” of their ideas, ensuring that they would satisfy market demand and other key considerations. Besides evaluating external factors, students also rated their internal motivations and skills for jump-starting the idea.

Penn State President Eric Barron attended as a special guest and offered feedback to one team exploring a “food hub” and distribution network for locally grown produce. Barron proposed creating a food cooperative — that way, the group could offer affordable prices for college students.

“It was great to have President Barron in class,” Foley said. “He energized the whole class with his remarks in support of entrepreneurship and the way he engaged in our small-group work.”

In 2015, Barron launched Invent Penn State, an initiative aimed at fostering entrepreneurship at University Park and the Commonwealth campuses. It has led to more rigorous classroom training, business incubators and entrepreneurship-based competitions, among other offshoots.

The University offers programming throughout the year, including Global Entrepreneurship Week, to further spark collaboration and creativity.

“Entrepreneurial students can become very successful,” Barron told the class, which serves as a cornerstone of the Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

MGMT 215, Foley said, is “aligned perfectly with President Barron's initiative to create LaunchBoxes or similar initiatives that provide funding and support to student entrepreneurs.”

To learn more about entrepreneurship efforts at the University, visit the Invent Penn State website. For more information about the ENTI minor, visit

The Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated April 12, 2019