what to do when you’re in college and you’re looking to start a company eventually?
imo, college is the greatest invention to help start companies, more than it’s actual purpose of education. the amount of stuff I learnt from peers far outweighed the traditional classes. it’s the perfect environment for you to not worry about failure and most importantly finding your co-founder.
here are some things I wish I had done:
b-plan contests: these are mostly not worth anything except for the prize money. don’t spend your time in writing that 16-page business plan. spend your time in actually building stuff
there are always going to be a bunch of advisors, people talking about venture capitalists, b-plan, etc. who’re ready to mentor. ignore all of them. build stuff
if you’re smart, you’re likely going to be lured by top companies for internships. don’t optimize for big brand names. don’t give in. intern (any role) at a fast growing startup. it’s an amazing experience to learn how startups function and most importantly to bond with founders
i’m not sure of the state of CS infrastructure in India but buy a great laptop + a good internet connection and hack all night with your co-founder. it’s a great investment
restrict your team to 2 or at the maximum 3 people. don’t treat your startup as a college project where there are 6 of your friends (one working on PR, marketing, etc.) working together. it’s not healthy and will create problems when you actually want to start the company
launch a functional, working prototype and put it up on HN, get feedback and iterate
do something out of the ordinary – timetable reminder, college fest calendars, etc. are all tried & tested.
a good and an unexplored area would be to build something for enterprises – it’s a MASSIVE opportunity. there are inefficiencies in every system. a good way to get feedback/brainstorm on this is to ask your senior (2+ years) on ideas. I can at least say that the talent market is huge and ripe for disruption
don’t do anything artificial to “boost” your resume – projects at top-tier institutions, etc. hardly matter during placement interviews. if you clear the interviews, you’ll most likely get a job. spend all your time on your startup. your resume will be far more impressive if it says “I built X which has 10k monthly active users” than some random project which just involved putting together a bunch of libraries
you don’t need an MBA degree to run a successful company. often people mislead by saying an MBA is essential to run a great company. if you’re interested in running a tech company, just scroll through the list of CEO’s in the most valuable tech companies and you’ll know the answer
you can always do your “M.S” anytime but you can do your startup only now. usually, the advice is the other way. you can never really draw a path for your startup, (i.e) you’ll work in a company for x years, get an MBA/MS and then start a company. never happens. an experience of 2-3 years in a company hardly matters in running a company. build stuff and start now
spend time in reading quality articles from PG, Ben Horowitz & Sam Altman; they mostly cover almost all problems and use-cases you’re likely to encounter. don’t read too much of startup stuff. it’s confusing
lastly, it’s always “cool” to run a startup during college. resist doing stuff that will make you cool (eg: updating your facebook profile to say CEO or printing business cards, etc.); find a great co-founder and keep building stuff.