University, entrepreneurs must learn from Syracutie situation
After almost two years of university officials dodging her, Alyson Shontell celebrated a success this year: She launched her line of “Syracutie” T-shirts in the Syracuse University Bookstore.
The whole ordeal serves as an important learning tool for SU officials and students alike.
The university has been pushing entrepreneurship ventures. There are classes, majors and groups on campus focused on creating start-ups. Obviously, these students draw ideas from the environment around them. It is irresponsible and unfair for university officials to communicate in an unprofessional manner with these start-up ventures — unlike how they would with any other established company — which they did when Shontell first tried to launch Syracutie.
On the other hand, the start-ups must remember the university has a responsibility and right to protect its brand. University officials would be negligent to enter into an agreement that does not benefit them and infringes upon their brand.
The university should take steps to avoid another Syracutie situation. Shontell was so aggravated with the university that she posted a first-person narrative on Business Insider. The Daily Orange also followed up and published an article on the alumna’s struggles.
Steps to work with Shontell were not taken until the media caught onto the story. This type of media exposure, which cast the university in a negative light, should not be necessary for communication to happen between parties.
University officials do not have to work with every single start-up that comes to them, but they should be cordial and communicate with the entrepreneurs who are trying to make a living and a name for themselves, especially because SU is pushing initiatives that foster an entrepreneurial environment.
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