Tag Archives: entrepreneurial spirit

Entrepreneurship and College: Part 3

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

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Entrepreneurship and College: Part 2

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

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Entrepreneurship and College: Part 1

Filed under: Notes from an Entrepreneur, Post Grad and Career - BookRenter Team
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Even if you don’t see yourself as an entrepreneurial spirit, don’t be afraid to start something new.

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 first of a three-part series on collegiate entrepreneurship and how it can help set you up for the future you dream of having.

Let me tell you a little story.  About a year ago, my dear friend David Gentile, who was my roommate at the time, called me up and asked me if I wanted to start a cookie business on the Albion College campus. Me loving cookies so much, I said, “Count me in.” At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, other than hoping that I would be eating a lot of cookies.

by Chris Amos

To make a long story short, Dave and I ended up co-founding DK Cookies, a cookie delivery service, our senior year. It was a lot of work and, well, okay, maybe we didn’t make as much profit as we would have liked. But as I look back on it, I’m so glad I took the opportunity.

Why? Because I learned things that will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life.

I believe that being an entrepreneur can help set you up for a great future.  If you look at some of today’s most popular companies, you’ll see that many of them were started when their founders were still in college. Examples include Facebook, Google, Reddit, Insomnia Cookies, Napster, FedEx, Microsoft, and even Dell.

What all these youthful founders had in common was an ability to see beyond simply what was in front of them, plus the courage and conviction to get their ideas out of their heads and into the real world.

It’s not that I think being an entrepreneur is for everyone. It’s not. If you’re going to go down that road you need more than an entrepreneurial spirit. You need to be self-motivated, someone who can go out and get what you want for yourself. You need to be willing to take risks, and know just how much of a gamble you can take and still sleep at night.

Even if you don’t see yourself as an entrepreneurial spirit, though, I still encourage you to try to start something new.

I say this because no matter what happens, whether your venture is successful or not, you’re going to come out of it having learned something. From my own experience this past year as a co-founder of DK Cookies, I learned invaluable lessons in:

  • Handling cash flows in a business environment
  • Dealing with legal procedures and regulations
  • Responding to a changing customer demand
  • The true meaning of patience

Not everybody is along for the ride when it comes to using college to hone your entrepreneurial chops, though.  In the fall of 2010, billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, announced that he was giving away $100,000 grants to 24 talented young entrepreneurs under the age of 20 to pursue their entrepreneurial dream instead of going to college or university. Thiel acknowledges that in encouraging young people to drop out of school, the program is controversial in some quarters. But, he notes, “[M]ore people are now realizing that college isn’t always the best option” for some students, adding “I hope our fellows inspire a generation about what they want in life and how to achieve it.”

What do you think? Is Thiel’s program a good thing, or is it a better move to graduate and then start a business?

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.

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