April 11, 2024

Corbin Brumfield '24 at his TriStar Basketball table. Corbin Brumfield ’24 at his TriStar Basketball table.A fund recently established by two alumni is underwriting the entrepreneurial endeavors of Susquehanna University students.

The Jameson ’02 and Jennifer Engerer ’02 Troutman Susquehanna Entrepreneurship Fund provides seed money for all students taking the capstone course in the Sigmund Weis School of Business’ entrepreneurship major. Additionally, all other students regardless of major can apply for up to $2,000 annually from this fund for their business and can apply multiple times if they show growth and development of the business.

The Troutmans were motivated to establish the fund due to their family’s own strong entrepreneurial spirit. Jameson’s father and his mother’s extended family both started their own businesses and Jennifer also runs her own digital marketing business.

“Whether you want to start and run your own business or not, the values and experiences of the entrepreneur can benefit everybody,” the Troutmans said. “Small businesses are very important to our national economy and countries around the world. We were excited that we could support an innovative program like this at our alma mater to foster curiosity and help power the small-business spirit among the next generation of innovators.”

The Troutmans’ funding led to the first Student Startup Market, which featured 20 students — both from within the entrepreneurship capstone course and beyond — selling their own products, from professional services to fitness and wellness products and more. Each participant received $100.

“We were able to revolutionize the Entrepreneurial Experience capstone course because of the funding made possible by the Troutmans,” said Lauren Smith, lecturer in management and marketing. “In this class, students are tasked with launching a ‘side-hustle.’ This year, we could provide initial funding and opportunities for further funding rounds for each of the business ventures in the class. The excitement and spirit that came with guaranteed funding was unmatched.”

The Entrepreneurial Experience capstone course is required for entrepreneurship & corporate innovation majors and minors and can be taken as an elective by students who meet the prerequisites.

Side hustles on display

A woman in a pink blazer stands behind a table displayed with baked goods. Ryan Rorls '25One of those students who received funding was Lindsay Griffin ’24, a triple major in advertising & public relations, entrepreneurship & corporate innovation, and management from Frackville, Pennsylvania.

Through her business venture, Reclaimed Runway, Griffin creates fun and unique fashion for Gen Z women by upcycling thrifted and secondhand clothes for purchase by embellishing items with unique iron-on designs. She also offers kits so customers can upcycle and DIY clothes or accessories they already own.

“There are a lot of entrepreneurs in my family, so I grew up with an appreciation for working for yourself,” Griffin said.

Her business combines her passions — sustainability and fashion.

“I love to shop for fun fashion and clothes like printed jeans, but all the stores I found that sold what I was looking for were unethical fast fashion retailers like Shein,” Griffin said. “That’s what encouraged me to combine my interests together to create this project.”

Griffin used her funding to help purchase supplies and the materials she used on her table at the Student Startup Market.

“It would have definitely been hard for me to put out the money on my own to purchase all my start-up supplies and materials,” Griffin said. “Without the funding, I would have been a lot less likely to start my business in the first place.”

After graduation, Giffin plans to pursue a career in digital marketing or social media, preferably in the Philadelphia region. She also plans to continue and grow her Reclaimed Runway side hustle.

Ryan Rorls ’25 is a business management major with a minor in data analytics from Frederick, Maryland, whose business venture, Sugar & Ry, specializes in handcrafted, elegant and high-quality baked goods. She established the business in 2020.

The funding Rorls received helped her to buy premium ingredients for her baked goods, including pure vanilla bean paste, Irish butter, King Arthur all-purpose flour and organic lemons, as well as attractive packaging to keep them fresh and appealing, she said. The funding also allowed her to “spruce up” her table at the Student Startup Market.

Rorls plans to continue nurturing and expanding her baking business while pursuing her postgraduate career in project management, with the idea of leveraging the valuable experiences and skills she gains from her career to enhance and streamline operations within her business.

“My goal is to create a synergistic relationship between my career and my business, allowing each to complement and enrich the other as I embark on this journey of entrepreneurship and professional development,” Rorls said. “Participating in the Student Startup Market allowed me to showcase my handcrafted treats and connect with fellow entrepreneurs who share my dedication. Telling the story behind each of my creations reinforced my belief that baking is about creating connections and spreading happiness one bite at a time.”