Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

5 Tips for a Budding Entrepreneur

Filed under: Notes from an Entrepreneur - BookRenter Team
Tags: , , , ,

By VP of Business Development and Founder Colin Barceloux
Colin has a BS in Management Information Systems and a Minor in Information Technology from Santa Clara University where he graduated with Honors in 2003. Colin resides in San Francisco and is an avid snowboarder, basketball enthusiast, mountain biker, and golfer.

Silicon Valley is a hotbed for startups. Our own founder, Colin Barceloux, was a college student when he came up with the idea for BookRenter. More and more venture capital is becoming available to small, scrappy startups that have nothing more than a couple of engineers and an idea. But whether you have the next big idea or are learning the ropes at an established business, here are some really helpful tools straight from Colin on how to get ahead.  Just for the record, Colin has number 4 nailed.

Hi BookRenters,

I used these to help found and grow BookRenter.com and if applied correctly you can use them as well to scale your business today and tomorrow…

1. Stay Focused

Remember Occam’s razor?  It’s a philosophy that says “the simplest answer is most likely the correct one.”  When looking at your business, apply Occam’s razor to decisions.  If something is truly tactical, delegate it. If it’s not a differentiator, outsource or partner to get it. At BookRenter, we outsourced all of our fulfillment, warehousing and book logistics.  There are companies with a tremendous amount of experience there. We aren’t going to win on logistics, but outsourcing it allows us to focus more intently on what is going to make us win.

2. Stop Thinking and Start Doing

Don’t get caught up in writing the perfect business plan.  It is impossible to plan every scenario you will face and it is more important to start executing and learning as you scale.  Most startups these days are launched on a PowerPoint Deck with high-level strategies and plans.  For more on writing these modern day plans read this.

One of the biggest advantage startups have are their ability to disrupt markets and shift as market conditions change or new business opportunities arise.  Often new markets change rapidly and you want to be positioned to take advantage of the change. Staying nimble will be one of your greatest advantages.

BookRenter.com founder, Colin Barceloux (Left) with engineers, Chris Williams (Center) and Philippe Huibonhoa

3. Make Sure To Balance

Take time off from work; yes, don’t be afraid to vacation.  It helps you think and stay creative.  Think about ways you can work smarter and not simply harder or longer hours.  Just because you are working doesn’t mean you’re winning. Step back and constantly evaluate if you are executing on the right things for your business.  Stop and think, “Does this really matter to my company winning?”

As you scale up, make sure to stay engaged with your business from a day-to-day perspective, but also find time for yourself to unwind.  Pick an activity, hobby, or passion that lets you have time for yourself.  It will improve your attitude and energy.  The founder of Kinkos Paul Orfalea has a saying that goes, “Stay on top of your business, not in it!”  This means you need to make sure you are not so caught up in the details of your day-to-day operations. If this happens, you lose track of strategic opportunities and overall market conditions that will have large impacts on your company.  For more you can read this book.

4. Be Irrationally Optimistic

Every successful startup needs one person that believes in the company no matter what happens and that person is usually the founder.  Founders always drive the business and are its soul.  Other team members will look at the founder and founding team when times get tough or the company is faced with adversity.

Also, make sure to invest some of your own money in your business.  It will show confidence to other investors in later rounds.  It will also help you make smarter decisions since your own money is at play.

As you scale up your business always choose success over control.  Starting a company is all about your business and NOT you.  Ego will kill your company and is one of the fastest causes for a business to struggle.  As you frame decisions, always ask the question, “What’s the best outcome for my company’s success?”

5. Don’t Forget The Passion

Have fun with your coworkers.  Remember you’re not working for “The Man” for a reason.  Have frequent company outings and get togethers.  Set milestones for your company and recognize your wins and successes with team celebrations.  Everyone works to make money but just as important, employees want to feel appreciated.

From the very beginning, get close to your customer and make sure to use your service or product frequently.  It will help improve your process and identify problems early on.  Don’t forget to continually do this as you grow.  And always take pride in your company and tell everyone you can, after all, you never know whom you will sit next to on a plane!

Add a Comment



The Surprising Economic Impact of Renting VS. Buying (Infographic)

Filed under: Education - BookRenter Team
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

EMBED THE IMAGE ABOVE ON YOUR SITE

Add a Comment



That’s $101 Million In Your Pockets

Filed under: Company Updates - BookRenter Team
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By VP of Business Development and Founder Colin Barceloux
Colin has a BS in Management Information Systems and a Minor in Information Technology from Santa Clara University where he graduated with Honors in 2003. Colin resides in San Francisco and is an avid snowboarder, basketball enthusiast, mountain biker, and golfer.

Today, we announced that BookRenter has saved students over $101 million dollars off the cost of textbooks. This is not only a special day for BookRenter, but also for me personally. When I started BookRenter I hoped that we’d reach a point where we would help so many students afford school, but now I can see this is really just the beginning. I got the idea to start BookRenter when I was a college student at Santa Clara University. Like students today, I was extremely frustrated with the high cost of textbooks. While at school, I worked three part-time jobs to help cover my out of pocket expenses, and textbooks were always the largest. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the status quo – buying textbooks and selling them back – is just a really expensive rental. When I started BookRenter, textbook rental was a new thing and today thanks in large part to BookRenter, rentals are fast becoming the preferred method for getting course materials.

From the very beginning, our mission at BookRenter has been to make education more affordable. After tuition, textbooks are the largest educational expense. Course materials cost on average $1,137 per year (College Board); that is a staggering number. For the millions of people attending community college, that averages about 40% of the annual cost of education. By renting textbooks, students can save up to 80%– that’s about $500 per year depending on what you study. When you start to apply that savings across the student population of the US, the result is tremendous. And for students scraping by on loans and grants to get through school, the impact of textbook rental takes on a whole new meaning. We created this picture to help people see how huge textbook rental can be. It makes us realize that $101 million is really just the beginning; $172 billion, here we come.

The Surprising Economic Impact of Renting VS. Buying (Infographic)

EMBED THE IMAGE ABOVE ON YOUR SITE

Add a Comment



Entrepreneurship and College: Part 3

Filed under: Notes from an Entrepreneur, Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Whether or not you choose to be a student entrepreneur, make college the place where you find your passion.

by Guest Blogger Keith Kaplan I ALBION COLLEGE: Brains (double-major honors student, Mortar Board, College Fellow) and brawn (swim team captain and an avid outdoorsman who most days can be seen paddling on the river that runs through his campus). Regular blogger. Co-founder of the eponymous DK Cookies (on Facebook!).

College is a time for learning – a time for finding yourself and setting yourself up for the future. It’s a time for taking chances, searching out opportunities. This is the last installment in a three-part series on collegiate entrepreneurship and how it can help set you up for the future you dream of having.

So you’ve seen a few businesses and heard about students starting their own businesses. The big question is, “How do I do it?” Starting a business is no simple task. When I interviewed successful entrepreneurs, I asked them what advice they’d give to aspiring student entrepreneurs. Today I’m going to share with you their key takeaways and how you might be able to apply them on your college campus. Don’t plan to start your own business, ever? Read on anyway – these guidelines will serve you well no matter what direction life takes you.

1. Use your resources: Nihal Parthasarathi, co-founder of CourseHorse, mentioned that one of the greatest things to do on your college campus is “use your resources,” from asking your professors for recommendations to bouncing ideas off your friends. Don’t be afraid to ask people for favors, because most of the time they’re more than willing to help you.

2. Don’t be shy: One of the great pieces of advice Nathan Latka gave was not to be shy when you ask for money. He realized that if you have a great product, people won’t complain if you charge more for it. Customers may even view your product as more legitimate and be more likely to use it.

3. Don’t be a bottle neck: There comes a time in running a business when you will need to expand. You can’t do it all. Someday it’ll be time to grow and bring more people on board.

by Aidan Jones

4. Do be a social butterfly: Meet anyone and everyone you can meet and expand your network. The bigger your network, the greater the pool of talent you’ll have to draw on when you need it.

5. Take (smart) risks: Everyone I talked to said that to be successful in running your own business, you need to take chances. Sometimes the results will be positive, and sometimes they’ll be negative. As Matt Mosher, co-founder and CEO of HiredmyWay, said, “Make mistakes to be successful.” This is how he created a multi-million dollar landscaping company.

6. Learn new things: With the free time you have before you start a new business , take any opportunity to learn skills that might be useful once your company’s up and running. Nihal mentioned that he wished he’d learned Photoshop or PHP before he started CourseHorse because he doesn’t have time to study them now.

7. Get excited: No matter what product you’re selling, get excited about it. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, you shouldn’t be selling it. Jason Bolt, founder of Shady Peeps, mentioned that one of the reasons that they’re successful is because their team is enthusiastic about their sunglasses.

8. Have knowledge: Be smart and don’t go into a business that you don’t know anything about. You’ll be better off going into a business based on something you already know. For example, Jason Bolt already had some experience with design when he went into designing sunglasses.

9. Don’t reinvent the wheel: After speaking to Matt, I learned you shouldn’t try to change the way the business process is performed. Instead, you should focus more on the ideas and originality of your business – exactly what Michigan-based HiredmyWay did to become a revolutionary job-board website.

10. Remember that the ball is in your hands: One of the biggest takeaways Nihal mentioned was the power you hold as an entrepreneur. The amount of effort and time you put into your business are factors that determine success. In turn it’s up to you to create that success.

Entrepreneurship is unique and unlike any other experience. An idea can evolve into something even bigger than you expected. You can see the full business process unfold and hopefully become successful. It’s been said that college is “something to do because you don’t know what you want to do with your life.” This may be true for some, but don’t let it be true for you: Whether you choose to be a student entrepreneur or you don’t, do make college the place where you find a passion and create – or at least set the stage for – your own future.

We value the diverse voices and fresh ideas that our guest bloggers bring to BookRenter.com. However, the ideas and opinions expressed in guest posts are strictly those of the post’s author and don’t necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of BookRenter.Com. The information in guest posts is often drawn from a variety of sources, and we count on our guest authors to verify and fact-check the content they post. BookRenter.Com makes no claims, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of guest post content or the suitability of the content for a specific purpose.

Add a Comment



Entrepreneurship and College: Part 2

Filed under: Notes from an Entrepreneur, Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

In which we talk to actual people who made their dreams come true.

by Guest Blogger Keith Kaplan I ALBION COLLEGE: Brains (double-major honors student, Mortar Board, College Fellow) and brawn (swim team captain and an avid outdoorsman who most days can be seen paddling on the river that runs through his campus). Regular blogger. Co-founder of the eponymous DK Cookies (on Facebook!).

College is a time for learning – a time for finding yourself and setting yourself up for the future. It’s a time for taking chances, searching out opportunities. This is the second in a three-part series on collegiate entrepreneurship and how it can help set you up for the future you dream of having.

In my last post, Part 1 of this series, we talked about collegiate entrepreneurship in general and why, for many of us, the experience is so valuable. In Part 2, rather than focus on mega-companies like Facebook and Google, let’s talk about folks – some who are recent grads and others who’re still in school – who are creating success on a more personal scale.

Makin’ Crepes is a student venture started on the Albion College campus this past year. A late night crêperie, it serves up sweet and savory crepes to students from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. If you’ve never had a crepe, you’re missing out. When asked what the biggest benefit of running a crêperie on campus was, Matt Makin, a co-founder, replied, “The experience of using all business practices, including management, operations, marketing. This is true experiential learning opportunity that will stick with me.” The founders wanted to start something new on campus and knew that their past experience with a student entrepreneurial exchange would help them create this venture.

courtesy of Flying Squirrel Peanut Butter; by Kath

Flying Squirrel Peanut Butter was started by University of Oregon students Keeley Tillotson and Erika Welsh – self-proclaimed peanut butter connoisseurs who make, package, and sell their homemade all-natural peanut butter to a growing base of devoted customers. The two make their product unique by adding flavorful twists like cinnamon and raisins, agave nectar, and cocoa. Neither student has a business background – Keeley is a journalism major and Erika is an environmental studies and Spanish major. This could say something about starting a business. Perhaps you don’t need to take classes to start your own business. Why they call it “Flying Squirrel,” I still don’t know. But the peanut butter looks great, and I’m dying to try some.

Nathan Latka, founder and CEO of Lujure and Fan Page Factory, comes from an entrepreneurial background and started out by selling candy on a school bus to his friends as a child. He later broke into the social consulting world, creating Fan Page Factory –  a community where users can share knowledge about changing fan-page technologies – and Lujure, a tool that allows users to create their own personalized fan pages. Nathan is great example of a student with a small idea who has actually built it into something quite large.  Since the launch of Lujure in December 2010, business has taken off.  Today the company has nearly 10,000 clients and Nathan has chosen to drop out of school to devote his full attention to Lujure.

courtesy of Business Insider; by CourseHorse

CourseHorse, a recent start-up located in New York City, is a search database for classes offered in New York, ranging from cooking to fitness to languages. Co-founders and NYU graduates Nihal Parthasarathi and Katie Kapler tried to start a college search business while they were students, but felt at the time that they didn’t have the background to pursue their original idea. After graduation, they worked in the management consulting field with test prep classes, and then, with some real-world experience under their belts, Nihal and Katie quit their jobs to pursue CourseHorse full time. Nihal told me that one of the greatest things about being an entrepreneur is the power to create. “When you own your own business, it is up to you to grow and develop your ideas,” he said.

Castle Party Rentals is a start-up run by Dan Stanek, a current student at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Customers can rent party equipment ranging from a mechanical bull to casino games and inflatable obstacle courses.  Dan was possessed by the entrepreneurial spirit at an early age. As a boy, he would set up a stand in his driveway and sell seashells, lemonade, even fruit and vegetables. While Dan’s party rental business is prospering, the challenges of running the company while being a full-time student are overwhelming. Most weeks, Dan finds himself pulling all-nighters, not because he’s writing a paper or cramming for an exam, but because he’s filling orders and loading trucks. The list goes on for the number of things he’s learned from running his own business, including management, accounting, and purchasing. The most important thing he’s learned: “People skills – knowing what people want to hear and how to get them to rent from me,” says Dan.

Shady Peeps, a start up on the University of Oregon’s campus, was launched in June 2010 by Jason Bolt. The company offers quality polarized and UV sunglasses themed to your college’s team. Jason came up with this business idea while he was enrolled in a post-baccalaureate medical program at the University of Oregon. He soon realized that he had a choice to make: There weren’t enough hours in the day to run the business and be a student. So he dropped his studies to concentrate full time on the business. Right now Shady Peeps is on only a few college campuses, but within the next month, the company will add 12 more schools to its network. Jason credits Caleb Iorg, a University of Oregon MBA student, for helping develop a solid business plan that will help Shady Peeps grow. What does Jason like most about running his own business? Being able to have complete control over the product development process. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait till they expand to my school so I can get my hands on a pair of these glasses.

In speaking with a few of these businesses, I found that these young entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they love to be in control. Nathan said he likes having the creative control and not having to answer to anyone. Nihal and Dan echoed this sentiment. “The ball is in your hands when it comes time to make decisions,” they said.

Be sure and watch for next week’s post and more take-aways from these self-driven entrepreneurs.

We value the diverse voices and fresh ideas that our guest bloggers bring to BookRenter.com. However, the ideas and opinions expressed in guest posts are strictly those of the post’s author and don’t necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of BookRenter.Com. The information in guest posts is often drawn from a variety of sources, and we count on our guest authors to verify and fact-check the content they post. BookRenter.Com makes no claims, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of guest post content or the suitability of the content for a specific purpose.

View Comments | Add a Comment