Undergraduate students at the University of Richmond will have the chance to combine business foundations with entrepreneurship and innovation skills by declaring an entrepreneurship minor in the fall of 2018.

Because entrepreneurship has become a driving force to both societal and economic change, UR already offers an innovation and entrepreneurship track for students in the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, according to the business school website.

Jim Monks, associate dean for undergraduate business programs, said entrepreneurship and innovation were multi-discipline topics that complemented many other majors offered at UR.

“It could be that a student has a passion for music or art or computer science, but they are interested in picking up some business knowledge in case they want to take that expertise into their other field,” Monks said.

Interest in entrepreneurship at UR has been growing as students join the Entrepreneurship Club, attend speaker events, participate in the annual eSpiders trip, become iLab members and participate in the annual Pitch Competition, Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the business school, said.

“We wanted to provide access to entrepreneurship curriculum to all students at University of Richmond, as we knew there was interest,” Bagranoff said. “We also wanted that curriculum to be accessible and easily paired with a major or minor, so we limited it to six classes.”

In declaring the new minor, students will be committing to take three units in fundamental business knowledge, including Accounting 201, Economics 101 and Marketing 320. Three units in entrepreneurship and innovation, including Management 347, Management 350, and Management 351, are also required. The classes for the minor are similar to those of the already-established track within the business school.

“We hope that students will acquire the basic business skills and knowledge of entrepreneurship needed to either start or join a business or social enterprise and to create an entrepreneurial mindset,” Bagranoff said.

The entrepreneurship minor is focused on providing non-business school students with the opportunity to build core knowledge in business fundamentals, entrepreneurship and innovation, while still pursuing a major in another field.

Many of the most successful entrepreneurs studied liberal arts or sciences at an undergraduate level, Michael Page, UR entrepreneur in residence, said.

“By opening the entrepreneurship curriculum up to students outside the business school, Richmond is providing many potential entrepreneurs with the core business skills necessary to make their ventures successful,” Page said.

Entrepreneurship is not all about coming up with the next big, creative idea, Page said. It is more about developing a certain mindset of identifying problems in the real world and launching solutions.

“The entrepreneurship minor will help students develop this entrepreneurial mindset and arm them with an intellectually and analytically rigorous process for developing creative solutions to problems,” Page said. “These skills are highly relevant in both non-business and business environments.”

Students at UR typically declare their majors and minors in the fall of their sophomore year. Although it is difficult to tell how many will declare this fall, there seems to be interest in this minor among students at UR, Monks said.

“In the past, we have taken students interested in entrepreneurship on related field trips," Monks said. "I would guess that about a quarter or a third of the students that have participated in the trips were not business majors."

Sophomore Zachary Sweedler is a rhetoric and communication studies major and has already declared the entrepreneurship minor for the fall. Sweedler has started and sold three clothing brands over the course of six years and has always been fascinated with the idea of startup companies and turning an idea into a profitable product, he said.

“Entrepreneurship is a universal field that caters to all passions and interests,” Sweedler said. “Innovation is what drives this world forward, and I think it's important for every business school to incubate and challenge those students who wish to achieve this.”

Contact contributor Kim Smith at kim.smith1@richmond.edu.