Entrepreneurship: It’s Not Just for Business

New course explains how businesses are started, why only some thrive and that, ultimately, entrepreneurship is a way of thinking
April 19th, 2018 by 

Ja-Naé Duane oversees a brainstorming session.
Ja-Naé Duane oversees a brainstorming session in her new Entrepreneurship course. Photo by Tom Rettig

“Why are all the good ideas already taken?”

The rhetorical — and exasperated — question came from a senior during a three-minute brainstorm in which students in Holy Cross’ new Entrepreneurship course were asked to create a list of nagging everyday problems.

Broken up into smaller groups, the students dug into each other’s lists — which included everything from the difficulty of finding vegan food to the expensiveness of textbooks — doing quick Google searches to see whether another company had already run with the idea or building off each other to come up with something more unique.

“Find the connective tissue,” Ja-Naé Duane, entrepreneur-in-residence and the course’s lecturer, challenged the class. “What major themes or similar pain points do you see among your ideas?”

The collaborative exercise, a staple feature of this first-time course, aimed to parse out what larger topics students want to explore through entrepreneurial ventures that will serve as the semester’s culminating project. Exercises like these help the students connect areas that they are passionate about with the opportunity to turn it into a venture or even find a sustainable business model.

Overall, the course aims to give students a foundation to understand how and why businesses are started and the role that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs play in today’s global economy. The course then dives deeper into the entrepreneurial mindset, challenging students to experience firsthand the steps involved in developing a successful business idea through the creation of their own.

Whether creating a product to help lacrosse players shoot more accurately or solving common issues faced while traveling, students learn to identify and anticipate the common challenges entrepreneurs experience and how to make decisions with incomplete information in environments characterized by rapid change and chronic resource scarcity.

Duane emphasizes that entrepreneurship, while complex, is a manageable process, and the lessons learned can be applied in virtually any organizational setting.

“A lot of the skills that students will learn throughout the semester are skills students will need within a larger corporation. The future of work and those skills are changing, so employees need to learn how to be flexible, to have lean thinking, and to know how to test their projects, hypotheses or campaigns so that they’re saving the company money, and they can be more efficient.”

Duane pushes students to start building these skills from day one.

“I run the class like I run a venture,” she says, giving students frequent opportunities for co-creation.

The course is also project-driven, allowing students to analyze successful and failed ventures from an academic perspective, while also participating in exercises, or “challenges,” that are more practical and application-based.

While there is no shortage of ideas in this course, Duane is more concerned with students walking away understanding entrepreneurship as a way of thinking and an attitude, dispelling the notion that entrepreneurship belongs exclusively to the business world.

“What political economist Schumpeter called ‘creative destruction’ is really the essence of entrepreneurship,” Duane says. “So, to me, to consider entrepreneurship just business is no longer valid.

“What isn’t clear to a lot of people is the connection between entrepreneurship and liberal arts,” she adds, explaining it came as no surprise that there was so much interest in the course, which drew students from a wide range of academic backgrounds.

“As someone with a fine arts background,” Duane shares, “it’s important to help students harness their creativity, the way they thoroughly think through the context of a problem and really look at all of the elements, not only just financial, but social, economic and the impact on the world. That 360-degree lens is the essence of any liberal arts education. This approach, reflected in entrepreneurship, helps students find where the connections are between their major, skills and the life that they want to lead.”

Course Catalog

 Students in Duane's Entrepreneurship course mark their favorite venture ideas on the blackboard

Students in Duane’s Entrepreneurship course mark their favorite venture ideas on their classroom chalkboard. Photo by Tom Rettig

CISS 110: Entrepreneurship

Professor: Ja-Naé Duane

Department: Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

Description: This course provides a foundation for understanding how and why businesses are started by identifying and exploring the discreet steps involved in transforming an often unrefined idea into a clearly articulated business model before developing a launch plan designed to get it into the market as quickly and inexpensively as possible. The focus of the course is on the creation of new ventures, the ways they come into being and the factors associated with their success.

Meeting Times: Tuesday, Thursday | 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Classroom: Stein 216

Required Reading

  • “The Startup Equation” by Steven Fisher and Ja-Naé Duane, 2015
  • Additional readings by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, communications experts

Assignments

  • “Challenges” that ask students to create plans addressing an issue faced by an organization
  • Creation of a new venture to present as final semester project
  • Class participation

Grades: Group projects, peer reviews, participation

Prerequisites: None, open to all students

About The Professor
Ja-Naé Duane is the entrepreneur-in-residence and a lecturer in the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies (COES). An award-winning innovator with over 20 years of experience, Duane has aimed to make life better for as many people as possible by focusing on revolutionary ideas and developing programs that impact our world. Currently, she is the co-founder of The Revolution Factory, a global network that enables innovation ecosystems in corporations, governments and universities.

The author of the best-seller “The Startup Equation” and “How to Start Your Business with $100,” Duane excels at advising startups because she understands from personal experience what it means to be a social entrepreneur. Over the years, her work has caught the attention of The Associated Press, NPR, Classical Singer Magazine, The Boston Globe and Businessweek. Duane is an angel investor and advisor for a number of startups, including Singularity University.

Duane has been integral in introducing new entrepreneurial programming at Holy Cross, including the creation of the NYC Startup experience for students during spring break and a summer course on social entrepreneurship. Duane has also launched a mentoring program for entrepreneurial students, worked with Career Development to provide more startup opportunities for students and collaborated with SaderSandbox and the Ignite Fund to provide more funding for student ventures.


Written by Evangelia Stefanakos ’14 for the Spring 2018 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

About Holy Cross Magazine

Holy Cross Magazine (HCM) is the quarterly alumni publication of the College of the Holy Cross. The award-winning publication is mailed to alumni and friends of the College and includes intriguing profiles, make-you-think features, alumni news, exclusive photos and more. Visit magazine.holycross.edu/about to contact HCM, submit alumni class notes, milestones, or letters to the editor.

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Hanify-Howland Memorial Lecture
Holy Cross Campus
The 53rd annual Hanify-Howland Memorial Lecture will be held April 2, 2019 in the...
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Conference: Readings from the Roots, on Bible Translation and Its Impact
4/2/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
This two-day conference highlights a new, historically-sensitive...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/2/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Assumption College Graduate School Info Table
4/2/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 3
Stop by the Assumption College Graduate School Info Table...
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Rodin:Truth, Form, Life/Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections
4/2/2019
175th Anniversary
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The inaugural exhibition of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/3/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Rodin:Truth, Form, Life/Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections
4/3/2019
175th Anniversary
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The inaugural exhibition of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery...
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Conference: Readings from the Roots, on Bible Translation and Its Impact
4/3/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Readings from the Roots is a new, historically-sensitive translation...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/4/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Once in a Lifetime By George S. Kaufman and Moss HartApril 4-6 &...
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Ira Sukrungruang
4/4/2019
English
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Thursday, April 4thIra Sukrungruang (multi-genre)READING 7:30PM...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/4/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Rodin:Truth, Form, Life/Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections
4/4/2019
175th Anniversary
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The inaugural exhibition of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery...
See More >>


Once in a Lifetime
4/5/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Once in a Lifetime By George S. Kaufman and Moss HartApril 4-6 &...
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MID Club
4/5/2019
Classics
Fenwick Hall 420
Open to Campus Community Only
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Once in a Lifetime
4/5/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Rodin:Truth, Form, Life/Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections
4/5/2019
175th Anniversary
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery
The inaugural exhibition of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery...
See More >>


Once in a Lifetime
4/6/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Once in a Lifetime By George S. Kaufman and Moss HartApril 4-6 &...
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Rodin: Truth, Form, Life/Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections
4/6/2019
175th Anniversary
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery 2
The inaugural exhibition of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery...
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Rodin: Truth, Form, Life/Selections from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collections
4/7/2019
175th Anniversary
O'Kane Hall Cantor Art Gallery 2
The inaugural exhibition of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery...
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Community Dance Workshop with Ronald K. Brown
4/8/2019
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB)
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite A - 4th Fl
Open to the Public
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COPE Well Week
4/8/2019
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
Open to Campus Community Only
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MPE Meeting (Event canceled)
4/8/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 304(05)
Open to Campus Community Only
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MPE Meeting
4/8/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Suite B/C - 4th Fl
Open to the Public
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Once in a Lifetime
4/8/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Hester/Craig Debate
4/9/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Kimball Hall Seelos Theater
Is theistic belief rational in a scientific age? Listen in on a conversation...
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COPE Well Week
4/9/2019
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 402(03)
Open to Campus Community Only
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Once in a Lifetime
4/9/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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COPE Well Week
4/10/2019
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 401
Open to Campus Community Only
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City Year Info Table
4/10/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 4
Stop by the City Year Info Table for learn more about this...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/10/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Lecture: Glenn Loury on the Ethics of Affirmative Action Policies in Higher Education
4/11/2019
McFarland Center for Religion
Carol and Park B. Smith Hall Rehm Lib
Glenn Loury, the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences,...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/11/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Once in a Lifetime By George S. Kaufman and Moss HartApril 4-6 &...
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COPE Well Week
4/11/2019
Counseling Center
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 304(05)
Open to Campus Community Only
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Once in a Lifetime
4/11/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/12/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Once in a Lifetime By George S. Kaufman and Moss HartApril 4-6 &...
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MID Club
4/12/2019
Classics
Fenwick Hall 420
Open to Campus Community Only
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Once in a Lifetime
4/12/2019
Theatre
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 2
LOBBY TABLE - Once in a LifetimeBy George S. Kaufman and...
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Once in a Lifetime
4/13/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Once in a Lifetime By George S. Kaufman and Moss HartApril 4-6 &...
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Holy Cross Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert
4/16/2019
Music
Brooks Music Center CONCERT HA
An evening of Big Band Jazz music that plays from the Classic to the...
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American International College Graduate Programs Info Table
4/16/2019
Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Stop by the American International College Graduate Programs...
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Community Dance Workshop with Ronald K. Brown
4/22/2019
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB)
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(09)
Open to the Public
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Holy Cross Orchestra Concert
4/24/2019
Music
St Joseph Memorial Chapel St Joseph Chapel
The Holy Cross College Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s...
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Manusripts, Inscriptions & Documents Round Table Discussion
4/24/2019
Classics
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 408(09)
Open to Campus Community Only
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Academic Conference
4/24/2019
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Haberlin Hall 219
Open to the Public
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Academic Conference
4/24/2019
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
O'Neil Hall 112
Open to the Public
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Academic Conference
4/24/2019
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Smith Laboratories 154
Open to the Public
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Academic Conference
4/24/2019
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Smith Laboratories 155
Open to the Public
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175th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt
4/25/2019
Featured Employee
Outdoor starting at Hogan
This Scavenger Hunt is being put on by the Mission and Identity Subcommittee...
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Perkins Human Services Agency Info Table
4/25/2019
Center for Career Development Categories: Center for Career Development
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Lobby Table 1
Stop by the Perkins Info Table to learn more about this agency...
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H-CLEF Concert
4/26/2019
Music
Brooks Music Center CONCERT HA
Join the Holy Cross Laptop Ensemble Federation for an evening of silent...
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MID Club
4/26/2019
Classics
Fenwick Hall 420
Open to Campus Community Only
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Holy Cross College Choir Concert
4/27/2019
Music
St Joseph Memorial Chapel St Joseph Chapel
Giacomo Carissimi was the first great composer of oratorios,...
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Chapel Artist Series Organ Concert - Pavel Kohout
4/28/2019
Music
St Joseph Memorial Chapel St Joseph Chapel
Pavel Kohout, OrganistInternational Concert Organist, Prague,...
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MPE Meeting
4/29/2019
Office of Multicultural Education
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 406(09)
Open to the Public
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Dance Concert
5/1/2019
Theatre
O'Kane Hall Fenwick Theatre
Dance ConcertMay 1 at 7:00 PM and 9:00 PMFenwick Theatre – 2nd...
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Romantic Exile and Transnational Celebrity
5/2/2019
English
Dinand Library Levis Browsing Room
Omar Miranda, assistant professor of English at the University of...
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Food Truck Festival
5/3/2019
Featured
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center Outdoor Oval
Join the Office of Student Involvement for a Friday Night...
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MID Club
5/3/2019
Classics
Fenwick Hall 420
Open to Campus Community Only
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Sanctae Crucis Selection Committee Meeting
5/9/2019
The Sanctae Crucis Awards
Henry M. Hogan Campus Center 320
Open to Campus Community Only
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MID Club
5/10/2019
Classics
Fenwick Hall 420
Open to Campus Community Only
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See All