Startups – 9 Reasons Why Not To Wait Until After Graduation

Mention the word ‘startup’ and one would immediately think of well-known names like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Dell, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon and Uber. Yet, how many of them were founded by students at universities or colleges? If you answered the first three companies, bingo! But what made these students do it? Fame, fortune, money, boredom? Why? Well, why not? Yes, why not indeed. If you are twiddling your fingers on whether ‘to startup’ or ‘not to startup’, here are a few reasons in favour of it.

1. Barriers? What Barriers?

MyEducation Everything is Possible

“The word impossible itself says I’m possible. Ok, it’s not that cliche.”

In an age when even children and teenagers have joined the bandwagon of ‘young entrepreneurs’, and successful ones at that, we find that age, experience and knowledge (or lack of it) are not barriers anymore. Take 10-year old Evan of EvanTubeHD, for instance. Born 6 December 2005, he and his dad started uploading YouTube videos of Angry Birds stop-motion clay models to share with Evan’s friends back in 2011. Requests then started coming in for toy reviews. The rest, as they say, is history. EvanTubeHD now has 2.5 million subscribers, 1.7 billion views and two other YouTube channels – EvanTubeRAW and EvanTubeGaming. Earnings? Approximately USD1.3 million per annum. Apart from his dad, Jared, and mom, Alisa, being featured in the videos, his younger 7-year old sister also has her own channel – JillianTubeHD started in 2013, has 93,000+ subscribers and is now up to 4.2 million views.

Another young entrepreneur, Lizzie Marie Likness, sold homemade healthy baked goods in order to pay for her horseback riding lessons back in 2006 when she was 6 years old. Eventually realizing that her true love was cooking instead of horses, she and her parents founded the Lizzie Marie Cuisine website, teaching kids about healthy cooking and eating, the fun way. Chef Lizzie has been invited to cook alongside celebrity chefs, become a spokesperson for organizations like the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, taught cooking classes, appeared on the Rachael Ray Show, and has her own WebMD Fit Channel video series – Healthy Cooking With Chef Lizzie.

2. Don’t Wait Till A Great Idea Arrives

Think Outside The Box

“See the box, think outside the box. That’s our moto for now.”

“Before you can launch a startup, you need a great idea to pursue”. This is a myth. Not all ideas turn out great the first time. YouTube started out as an online video dating site, with the slogan ‘Tune in, Hook up’. It didn’t have any uploaded videos because no one used it. Even when its founders offered to pay money for uploads, no one took up their offer. Users then began to use the site as a means of video sharing instead of video dating. The site ended up being broader and general, defined by its users.

Facebook was Facemash – rate the “hotter” face. Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facemash during his second year at Harvard University in 2003 at age 19. He had hacked into the Harvard computer network to gain access to images. Harvard shut down the site a few days later and its creator was charged with breach of security, violating copyrights, and violating individual privacy, as well as faced expulsion. All charges were later dropped. Subsequently, in 2004, he wrote and launched ‘thefacebook’, before being sued by 3 seniors for allegedly stealing their ideas. Talk about demotivation! The lawsuit was later settled in 2008. Twitter was an internal SMS tool for a company. Even the founders weren’t sure what it was. A social network? Microblogging? In the end, it was defined as more of an information network.

3. Startup Timing

Best TIming For A Startup

“If only knowing the perfect timing is as easy as burning a piece of paper”

The good news is, everyone knows that timing is everything when it comes to launching a startup. The bad news is, nobody can really guarantee when is it the right time. Perfect ideas could turn out as flops and some potential flops end up being successful. So what do you do? Perhaps this quote might serve as a useful evergreen guide: “See a need, fill a need” – Bigweld’s slogan in Robots (2005 film) directed by Chris Wedge. So launch, test, feedback, re-invent, repeat.

4. Youth, ambition, drive and time – you have it, so use it!

Dive In And Try

“Let me just dive in and see what it feels like.”

Go ahead and dive on in – how else would you know whether the water’s hot or cold? So what if at the end of it, it’s a ‘game over’ and failure gets a chance to say hello? No harm done. Chalk it up as experience points gained in your youth. Be ambitious. Try and try again. As a student, nobody expects a perfect business plan. It’s about dreams and driving that dream machine into motion. Time is on your side, more or less, for now. If you think you are stressed out with course work, examinations and college social life, and want to wait till graduation to be stress-free and obligation-free, think again! There is only the ‘real world’ beyond graduation – eg get a salary, get a property, get a car, get a partner, get a kid(s), get old etc, no repeats! Obligations, obligations and more obligations! (This is in no way intended to give you sleepless nights thinking about your future.) For most students, your responsibility and obligation right now is to yourself – invest in it.

5. Accumulation Of Experience Is To ‘Learn On The Go’

Learning While Working

“It’s a learning route whichever you take, it adds up to experience.”

Nowadays, fresh is good! You are armed with the latest knowledge/teachings, technology, trends etc. Sometimes, it’s good to have a fresh take on things. So don’t worry about amassing prior experience points.

6. Source of Resource

Information Everywhere You Look

“Let me try and find out where the success resource here is.”

Your place of study is a wealth of knowledge and experience, high and low, left and right, all around you! They are stored in softcopies, hardcopies, in the library, in the virtual computer lab, in JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments), they can even be seen walking around. Yes, we are talking about the smarts, the experts, ie the professors and lecturers. These “how to”, “101 crash course” and “for dummies” knowledge come with no consultation fees. Ask your lecturer, nicely, and they would be happy to share their know-how.

7. Natural Social Hub – Free Support, Marketing and Networking

Networking Goes A Long Way

“Picture networking and of course, social media …”

This would come in handy when you are trying to garner support and conduct marketing for your startup. Friends know friends who know other friends who know relatives who know working people who know business organizations etc – the networking could only grow bigger. They would be a source of valuable feedback. Interaction and networking with students from other disciplines could also form the base of a strong young startup team, lasting way beyond your student years. Who knows? Innovation could result in your multidisciplinary background. Startups usually find that in addition to the marketing and coding, they would have a need for smarts in accounting and finance (no, accounting and finance are not the same). It is also worth teaming up with 1 expert in marketing/sales + 1 expert developer, rather than 50 interns. So, choose your lean and mean team wisely from the start.

8. Mentors, Mentors Everywhere

Seek For Startup Help

“Talk about mentors and borrowing a helping hand.”

Organizations like ‘1 Malaysia Entrepreneur’ (1MET) and ‘Startup Malaysia’ are here to help you with the science and ecosystem architecture behind startups. Reach out and seek their guidance on the many road bumps ahead. It would save you on a lot of effort, time and money.

9. Local startup heroes – 9 whose dreams turned into reality – why not you?

Think Of An Idea

“Everything starts off with a lightning bulb idea.”

Organizations like ‘1 Malaysia Entrepreneur’ (1MET) and ‘Startup Malaysia’ are here to help you with the science and ecosystem architecture behind startups. Reach out and seek their guidance on the many road bumps ahead. It would save you on a lot of effort, time and money.

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