“I wish I knew what to do with all of this extra time on my hands…” said no college student ever. If your life is anything like mine, you would love 6 extra hours at the end of every day. But how come amidst textbooks, midterms, finals, homework, and parties, many students have realized that now is the best time to launch their startup?
Many would say that student entrepreneurs often head into their startup journey a little too naive. However, I would argue that although naivety may often be a young founder’s biggest flaw, it can also one of his or her biggest strengths. Roy Ash said:
“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”
Why not bite off a little more than you can chew?! College students are in the best position they may ever be in to take a risk on doing what they actually want to do with their lives. Here’s why:
1. The Opportunity Cost
Student entrepreneurs have nothing to lose, literally. There are few times in a person’s life where they have less than they do in college (hopefully at least). The opportunity cost of launching your own business in college is a fraction of what it will be when you arrive at that “someday” you keep telling yourself about. Imagine how much harder it will be to leave your comfortable salary, your established career, and your professional reputation when you finally get around to “being your own boss” or “starting that business you always dreamed of.”
It’s hard to step away from a nice paycheck or career, unless of course, you don’t have one yet. How many people never pursue their ideas because the opportunity cost of doing so is just too much to handle? This from Les Brown:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determine to carry out their dream.”
2. The Treasure Trove of Resources
I want you to close your eyes and imagine a magical place where there is 1.cutting edge technology for free, 2. a group of some of the smartest people in the world, 3. more research labs, fabrication shops, and computers than you can count, 4. tens of thousands of people willing to work for next to nothing, and 5. a giant group of people who are interested in the next big thing.
Okay, go ahead and open your eyes now. If only such a place existed. Wait…what’s that? This just in: there are over 4,000 of those places across the United States; they’re called college campuses. Ever seen one? Can you imagine a better environment to be in to launch a company?! No wonder schools like the University of Utah are investing so much money in entrepreneurship!
From 3D printers, to any software you can think of, universities have it all. Granted, not all 4,000-something colleges in the U.S. have a budget like Harvard, but they still have an incredible amount of resources available to students for super cheap. Plus, the level of intelligence among college professors, many of whom have real industry experience, is invaluable to a student entrepreneur as well.
“The fact that you are students gives you access to people and resources (to help you launch a startup) that will evaporate quickly when you graduate.” -Steven Fox, BYU Rollins Center
3. The Enhanced Educational Experience
I’ve realized as a student entrepreneur, that as I work on startups in college, my educational experience is much more applicable. I hated accounting with a passion. But as I took the accounting classes that I did, it was much more interesting to learn things that directly applied to what I was doing everyday. Before I was involved in my current project, what I learned in the classroom seemed like abstract ideas that were hard to apply to real-life.
Imagine learning a finance strategy in the morning, and then implementing it in a startup that evening. Or imagine that instead of designing media in your graphics class for a pretend company, you are designing logos, graphics, etc. for a startup. How much more would you internalize the principles you were being taught?
As stated in my last article, I think we have a problem when we “see so many talented young people working themselves to death to reach a certain GPA, perfect their interview skills, and look their best so that they can kiss the keister of some guy in a suit and beg him for a job.” Rather, why not leverage your university experience to make your job? Why struggle and compete for a job, when you can create one?
All I’m saying is, it’s time for us “Millenials” to prove our stereotypes wrong. We’re not all wimps who feel a sense of entitlement. We don’t all live in our parents’ basement or need a “safe zone” from the world. We’re some of the most ambitious people this world has to offer. We can influence and change the world around us as much as any CEO can. We can challenge the status quo, and we can launch the world’s next great startup.
photo credit: Alexis Glauser Clement