Student founders are in their prime

Why students are in the perfect position to build something new

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July 26, 2020

(3 min read)

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Many students don’t fathom the possibility of creating something new. Tons of great things solving real problems get built as class projects, hackathon projects, or side-projects for the sake of personal learning. Lots of these projects have tons of potential, but I don’t see enough students taking those high potential projects one step further.

I think it might be due to how clear the traditional path is. Go to school, try to achieve good grades, then do what it takes to get that job. Learn a lot of programming languages so you can slap them on the resume. Build one or two projects that could make you stand out on paper. In my view, building things not for the sake of creating something new, but to bolster one’s reputation minimizes the impact a great idea or project can deliver.

So I’m writing this article, because I believe that many student founders don’t realize the prime position they’re in. Responsibilities pile up, including studying and extracurricular involvements, but the amount of resources students have access to is crazier than many believe.

1. People love helping student founders. I talked a bit about getting past imposter syndrome yesterday, and to understand that people come from similar roots. Those in positions to help you were probably students themselves, who were looking for guidance from others too. They know that it’s hard, and are more willing than you think to lend a hand. It’s just a matter of reaching out. (If @richard could successfully cold email Mark Cuban for help, imagine how many others would be happy to help!)

2. Companies love supporting students. Take advantage of all the deals and programs that companies offer! They make it super affordable (often free) to get something off the ground. Here’s a few of my favorite products with great student deals:

  • Github Student Pack (tons of dev and SaaS tools for free)
  • Notion
  • Figma
  • PersistIQ
  • Loom

3. Tons of underutilized institutions setup for student founders. Institutions are in place all over the country. Entrepreneurship organizations provide like minded students and a great place to find co-founders. Hackathons give you unlimited fuel (food + energy drinks) and an environment to build cool stuff. Keep on the lookout for on-campus accelerator programs and such too. Moral of the story, there are tons of resources out there, it's just up to you to seek them out and to take advantage while you're there.

4. Safety net. I want to note that this doesn’t apply to everyone, since different financial situations change the effect of this safety net. But I’ll say that if you’re a university student, the cost of failure won’t be as high. If you fail, you go back to focusing on classes and activities. As an adult with a family or a stable job, pursuing a startup inherently poses a higher risk. Your #1 job as a student is to learn anyway, and there’s no place you can learn more than from building something from scratch and figuring out the bits and pieces as you go.

If you’re a student who’s considering building something, go for it. And if you’ve already worked on something cool for a class or anything, think and talk to some people about the value it provides. If it’s solving a legitimate issue, then consider pumping some energy into that old project. Who knows where it could go?

Roland Shen

@roland

Building Imprint!

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