So, people usually ask me, "Zee why on earth are you still at university if you've already Co-Founded a start-up?" Apart from student discounts, it really comes down to three factors entrepreneurs need, and it happens to come free if you're a student; smart people, passionate people and time. Students often forget about these riches. They are at your disposal whilst studying at university. What students also tend to forget is that the student demographic is a very profitable one indeed. Pushing a product, service or app to students can be very, very pivotal to the success of your start-up. Being a student means you have this entire demographic in the palm of your hand.
Universities are jam packed with veteran academics who have PhDs in pretty much anything you can imagine, whether it be finance or law to business and computer science. It is not very hard to arrange a meeting or to walk into the office of your lecturer and get advice on an idea. These people have spent their entire lives studying the foundations of subjects that are key to your start-up, meaning their advice is critical to what you're looking to achieve. Having a bunch of guys with PhDs advising your company is pretty impressive. I usually find myself sitting in the office of a lecturer that doesn't even teach me, asking about something that's not even in the university curriculum. In fact, lecturers and academics enjoy talking about their field away from the classroom syllabus. I mean, we've all seen Breaking Bad right?
Universities are home to some of the most passionate and sharpest people in the country; students. Before having their brains and livelihoods dampened by the corporate world, students are very keen on solving issues and working towards exciting things. Regardless of your skill set, if you are passionate about the issue or problem you are trying to solve, then the chance you'll succeed are very high. Start-ups are fueled by passionate team members, therefore, finding someone to start a project with is not hard if you're at university. In addition, you can find these people at relevant events and societies meaning you won't really have to do much digging. In fact, Rich and Alan met at university!
Entrepreneur or not, we all crave more time. As I'm writing this I have next 4 months off. Students enjoy several months off university after they've finished the academic year, giving them plenty of time to work on something. Actually, even during the academic year, you can still manage your time between studying and working...maybe not so much for the social life but oh well. One of the main reasons I chose to go to university is because I knew I'd have heaps of time to work on Paperclip and other projects, as opposed to going into full-time work. I'll let Alan tell you about that.
Finding motivation can be pretty hard as a student. Luckily for me, Paperclip was up and running before I undertook a hideous Economics degree. But for most students, they find themselves at a loss due to not knowing where to start or where to look. Plus career advisors on campus are pretty shit. The best thing to do is to start hitting up relevant events. What do I mean by relevant? I mean events that are related to your start-up (tech events, networking, marketing etc). Why? Well because it's a solid starting point for you to see how the underpinnings of start-ups actually function and also because you'll meet people with much more experience than you and people who are just starting out like you. I met Woolley at Start-Up Weekend at Google Campus. I thought Woolley was 16 years old. Anyways, from these events, you'll start understanding more about the workings of start-ups and more importantly, the tools needed to get you going. Just go, you literally have nothing to lose. Seriously...
In my opinion, the best time to start a company is at university. Not when you're knee deep in corporate work, have a mortgage resting on your shoulders and some wife probably named Bertha breathing down your neck telling you you're useless. Actually, forget the last point.
Published by: alan in Musings