Startup Education: Re-imagining the College Experience for Entrepreneurs
With the plethora of resources available to entrepreneurs at all stages of the startup lifecycle - from SBDC and Startup Weekend to incubators and coworking spaces - it is easy to imagine life as an entrepreneur from the perspective of a new college student. If every entrepreneur were given an acceptance letter to this mythical university, it might read something like this:
I’d like to welcome you to the startup university, a leading higher education institution for innovators, disruptors and enthusiasts to develop their business idea into a viable entrepreneurial opportunity. For many of you, this will be a long and arduous road filled with numerous pivots and bumps, but equally rich with tremendous interpersonal connections and professional successes along the way. Part of our role is to make you aware of the numerous resources available throughout your time here at the university:
Do not forget to launch your business with the basics. Resources like Hopscratch are available to help you name your business, set up a company email and bank account, and legally incorporate your business. If self-paced is more your style, you can always review the numerous business launch checklists from organizations such as the Small Business Administration and others.
The first few days of any entrepreneur at the university can be the most critical. Here you are getting a crash course in entrepreneurship and enjoying a small taste of what the next few years are going to look like. You are not only solidifying your initial business concept but you are potentially meeting your bunkmates along the way. Startup Weekend on a global scale and Synapse for medtech on a local level are perfect examples of the high level startup overview you will be receiving. CoFoundersLab and FounderDating are networking resources to help you build your team as well. Remember: you’re not going to learn everything here, but the knowledge you gain will position you for success going forward.
There are hundreds of advisors available to you throughout your time here and you can leverage them whenever you wish. They include the Small Business Development Center and SCORE, among others. These are free resources to keep you on track for graduation and success.
We know starting your own business can be an expensive undertaking. If you need ongoing financial support, there are countless options available to you - from angel and venture capital to entrepreneurship grants and subsidies such as the Arizona Innovation Challenge (local) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants (national). However, please make sure you work with your advisors to pinpoint the right opportunities for you, if appropriate.
Startup accelerators are available to entrepreneurs looking to move through the curriculum at a faster pace. These alternatives offer hands on support, mentorship, and in some cases financing in a (mostly) finite time period to rapidly scale your idea. Programs such as Tallwave, Y Combinator and TechStars, give you the potential to graduate much sooner with traction and success in your business. We understand these accelerated options are not for everybody as some would prefer to move at a more methodical pace, but nonetheless they are available.
Startup Degree Program
This is the meat of your education. We have dedicated incubator programs which provide the education and experience of nearly every aspect of launching and operating your company - from idea validation to product development and commercialization. You will have mentors in very specific areas available to teach you the specifics of business finance, marketing and branding, manufacturing and distribution, and numerous other areas. By the time you graduate from the program, you will have just about all the knowledge you need in your business toolkit to continue to grow for years to come.
Getting to know and collaborating with your fellow entrepreneurs is one of the most rewarding aspects of attending the startup university. Coworking spaces, such as CO+HOOTS, Galvanize, and WeWork, offer a fraternity / sorority of like-minded professionals with whom you can collaborate and share the common experience of being an entrepreneur. Whether you want to kick back with a beer and pick each other’s brain about business, attend events about startup development, or formally partner with compatible organizations, these are the spaces designed to facilitate these important connections.
We hope these and other resources help you be successful as a startup practitioner. Congratulations again and good luck in your entrepreneurial endeavor!
Need more help navigating the life of an entrepreneur developing a startup? Download our Startup Lifecycle Resource Kit!