Author Archives: Guest Author

A Typical Week in the Start Co. Lab

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0e20472Anyone who is familiar with Start Co. understands that it runs accelerator programs for startups with a goal to stimulate the Memphis community with technology and innovation jobs. Then there are the people who simply ask, “So what does Start Co. actually do?” People either know what we do or they have no idea who we are. I was one of those clueless people when I decided to intern for Start Co. this summer of 2016. The only word I could associate with Start Co. was “startups” because as an undergrad student at Rhodes College studying English I was never exposed to the village that it takes to grow startups and grow communities. I thought, why not see how the startup world functions and gain some perspective? This would afford me the opportunity to acquire some knowledge about the business world and make connections with people who have intriguing ideas. While Start Co. has definitely presented me with all of these insights; I have also caught a glimpse of the Start Co. world that many people don’t see. This is what makes us a unique team.

My first week working with Start Co. was the week of Memphis in May’s BBQ festival. Start Co. has been participating in the festival for the past 3 years and hosts a tent to bring Investors, Sponsors, Mentors and other entrepreneurs outside of Memphis to enjoy the Memphis culture, or even experience it for the first time. This gives the startups a chance to make connections and network in an environment outside of the lab. The entire week was consumed with planning, walking, lifting— along with a lot of sweat, alcohol, good conversations, many connections, and all around enthusiasm. The event was only two days and I kept being told that it was an “unordinary” week compared to how the rest of the summer would go. However, now after working with Start Co. for a month I have to disagree. The event was the perfect introduction as to exactly how the rest of my summer experience at Start Co. would continue.

I soon learned that the “normal” schedule of Start Co. was anything but “normal” as it changes all of the time with different objectives each day. We’re always focused on the day-to-day usual programming, coordinating, organizing schedules and planning sessions. However, the next day our main goal might concentrate on driving all around Memphis to gather furniture for our 6th floor expansion. This is what makes the working environment of Start Co. one-of-a-kind. I watch pitch practice every Tuesday and Thursday to witness the team’s pitches get stronger every week. I also do inventory weekly to make sure the office has everything it needs to function properly. I sit in on office hours to go through the team’s business development and model canvases, but I also email them to remind them of when the next session begins. I spectate many of the sessions that take place in the lab such as customer discovery, interview preparation, talent development complex, social media training, content creation, brand strategy canvas, etc., but I also have the privilege of managing the Start Co. Instagram and Facebook page. The Start Co. schedule never stops producing intense energy.

Working in the lab that’s located in downtown Memphis on Main St. has exposed me to more of the Memphis community than I have seen in my past three years of being a Rhodes College student living in Midtown Memphis. I have sat in on numerous meetings around the city such as the City Council, members of St. Mary’s school, members of the Assisi Foundation, and many business partners of Start Co., such as Archer Malmo and Baker Donelson right around the corner. I have been inside the Memphis Federal Building, seen the Mississippi River from the rooftop of the Madison, played Werewolves with my co-workers and experienced my first concert at the Levitt Shell theatre. I have stepped inside the Orpheum and Halloran Theatre downtown, experienced Memphis in May for the first time, visited Nashville for the first time, and have had the opportunity to meet a number of people inside and outside of Memphis that have taught me more than just how to make coffee and use a fax machine. Between the core programming that Start Co. offers to its startups and the outside networking events that are constantly occurring throughout different locations within the city of Memphis, a day at Start Co. is never boring. Constantly surrounded by inspiring, interesting and driven people that are trying to solve a problem that they are passionate about is what makes this company far from insipid and makes the Start Co.’s motto of “Never Stop” nothing but accurate.


Lindsay Gess is a Start Co. Summer Associate and a rising senior at Rhodes College. She can be reached at lindsay.gess@neverstop.co

5 Key Takeaways from Founders Dinner with David Hoffman

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AAEAAQAAAAAAAAPdAAAAJDlhMmE4MzMxLWEyNTItNDMzOC1iOTg4LTRlNGZlNzhkMGUyZAOn Monday, June 13th, Next Big Sound Cofounder and Head of Product David Hoffman came to talk to our accelerator teams at our weekly Founders Dinner. Next Big Sound is the leading provider of online music analytics and insights, tracking hundreds of thousands of artists around the world. They analyze the popularity of artists, comparing them to a benchmark set by artists of a similar level of recognition. They then use this to predict how they will perform and answer their root question, “How does a band become famous?” Based in New York City, Next Big Sound was launched in 2009 and acquired in the summer of 2015 by Pandora. It was named the most innovative company in the music industry and one of the top 50 most innovative companies overall by Fast Company. Here are some key takeaways from David’s talk with our founders.

  1. People make the idea work, not the other way around

A common theme among successful startup investors is that they invest in people. Great ideas are a dime a dozen, but people who are capable and driven enough to turn those ideas into a reality are a rarity. When David and his cofounders showed up to the TechStars accelerator in 2009, they had just decided to completely scrap their original idea that got them into the program in the first place. They were afraid the program leaders would boot them out of the program, but instead they said, “We invest in people, not ideas.” A once in a generation idea is great, but every founder must know that if they aren’t fully committed to the process and driven to action then they won’t be successful. On the other hand, those who possess these qualities can achieve success, even if their original idea falls flat.

  1. Find a problem to solve, and go solve it

When the Next Big Sound founders were first starting their business they wanted to answer one question: how does a band become famous? It took them a while, but every time their idea failed they went back to that original question, and eventually began to uncover the answer. They saw that the music industry was progressing to the online space and designed software to track online listeners and compile it in a database that record labels could use to easily evaluate talent. They found an area in which the industry was lacking and they came up with a solution. Your startup must solve a real, measurable problem in order to find success.

  1. Choose your team carefully

David counseled the same caution in picking team members as Brad Silver did a few weeks ago in his Founders Dinner talk. “Hire slow, fire fast.” If you don’t follow this policy you can end up with a couple of bad eggs infecting your company’s culture, as Next Big Sound experienced. They learned from their mistakes, however, and are now more cautious when hiring. They also feature a constantly evolving company culture handbook that allows for employee P1160751input and suggestions.

  1. Know when to pivot

Another echo of Mr. Silver’s talk, David stressed that you must be willing to completely change your business if it isn’t working. He described the first idea he and his cofounders had as “fantasy football for music”. Not surprisingly, this failed, but they quickly realized their mistake and were willing to switch paths. They had to go through this recycling process multiple times until they found out what worked. If your idea isn’t working, let it go.

  1. Failure is a part of the process

“You’re going to try a lot of things and they’re not going to work, and that’s okay. As long as you’re persistent and stick with what you believe in, something great will happen.” When starting a business, you must be accepting of failure. In order to find out what works, you first have to find out what doesn’t work. Take every failure as a learning opportunity. The Next Big Sound founders were dedicated to the music industry and making an impact within it, and they didn’t let their failures sway them from their true passion. You must be willing to evolve while also sticking with your foundational values and beliefs. It’s a difficult, yet necessary balance to maintain.


Grant Hechinger is a Start Co. Summer Associate and a rising senior at Rhodes College. He can be reached at grant.hechinger@neverstop.co.

Key Takeaways from Founders Dinner with (virtual) Thomas Knoll

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30223-largeOn Tuesday, May 31st, Revelry Executive Advisor and Business Coach Thomas Knoll Skyped in from Minneapolis to talk to our accelerator teams during our weekly Founder’s Dinner. Knoll has nearly 20 years of experience with building startups and cultivating communities. He is currently working with his third startup, Revelry- a custom software and digital product studio that works closely with startup companies. Knoll took some time to discuss some of the obstacles entrepreneurs face and some of the expertise he often shares with startups.

Knoll introduced himself as someone who loves to help his clients at Revelry with their products. How he came to work with Revelry was largely due to his passion for figuring out how to help businesses, and mentoring and advising other founders. These were his favorite parts about going through two rounds at 500 Startups accelerator. He also cares about developing company culture, which he worked toward at Zappos as a community architect. Here are a few key takeaways from Knoll’s experience.

  1. Think about growing a great business not necessarily how to sell it

Startup founders are faced with managing many aspects of the company. When asked the question of where their company is going to be in 5 to 10 years, many early stage founders stop and are tempted to thoroughly evaluate this question. Knoll addressed this dilemma by advising that founders should focus on making sure that there is a functional company in the first place, and not to worry quite yet about how to sell it. Knoll’s experience with selling his past two companies meant to him that the opportunity cost of not going after the ‘next big thing’ was greater than the option to keep pushing for the business- a matter that came to him as he was further along in the development of his companies.

  1. Community building comes with some major benefits

For Knoll, a professional community cultivator, there are a number of benefits that come with creating a community. First, he pointed out that community building differs from crowd building, stating that “true communities are living, breathing things”. This organism brings a major factor to a company: retention. Part of the appeal and offering that a company can have is loyalty. The more people that feel connected to the community, the more likely people are to share with others. This creates a sense of loyalty and cultivates a group that shares values, culture, beliefs and, ultimately, a sense of belonging.

3. Be accepting of criticism

In response to being asked if startups should listen to those saying ‘fail fast and prove what works in your company’ versus ‘neverstop’ and don’t give up, Knoll responded that there isn’t necessarily a difference between those concepts. Instead, he says, be accepting of criticism and take those risks. He cautioned founders to believe that the most dangerous thing that happens to startups is advice. Founders should always listen to advice but not always follow that advice. Rather, they should think through it, discuss it, and pattern match before taking any action on a piece of advice. Then would be the appropriate time to make changes.


Alec Marshman is a Start Co. Summer Associate and a rising senior at Rhodes college. She can be reached at alec.marshman@neverstop.co.

Start Co. Expands Hub for Entrepreneurial Activity in Memphis’ Downtown Core

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Expanded offices triples initial footprint and increases density of creative workers in downtown Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (May 20, 2016) – Start Co., the Memphis-based venture development organization, today announced its expansion to the sixth floor of 88 Union Ave., increasing its current footprint by 50 percent to more than 13,000 square feet. The additional 4,500 square feet on the sixth floor will house Start Co. operations and offices for staff and more seasoned startups, allotting the Start Lab significantly more space on the second floor for growing accelerator operations. Additionally, high speed fiber will also be installed throughout the offices to deliver the fastest download speeds possible, a critical factor for teams who are leveraging technology platforms, resources and in some cases, building businesses online.

“This expansion gives the Memphis entrepreneurial community even more options and resources that are needed during the critical phases of acceleration. It also increases the density of entrepreneurial activity and creativity in the Downtown Core,” said Eric Mathews, Founder and CEO of Start Co. “In addition, the expansion will give more founders the opportunity to work at the Start Lab post-acceleration, giving them a longer runway before taking off on their own.”

The space on the second and sixth floors will give startups such as Code Crew, Preteckt and Graph Story dedicated co-working facilities so they can focus resources on moving from product launch to product success to business success before making a commitment to a long-term commercial lease.

Over the last two years at 88 Union, Start Co. has increased programming and support for startups. The hub of activity, community meeting and educational space called The Start Lab is serving as the headquarters for the Summer of Acceleration which kicked off on May 2 with joint programming for 18 accelerator teams from Start Co., Start MMT, ZeroTo510 and EPIcenter. There the startups receive business development and strategy workshops, educational seminars, trainings, networking, office hours and more. Additionally, the space contains break out areas including conference rooms, a digital living room, other meeting spaces, and an outdoor patio for events and networking opportunities.

“This expansion speaks to our commitment to cultivating entrepreneurship in Memphis,” said Andre Fowlkes, president of Start Co. “It’s a big upfront investment with increased operating expenditures incurred at Start Co., but the impact of this investment extends far beyond the Start Lab – startup teams will be patronizing local restaurants for lunches and dinners, paying for parking, buying from local businesses, signing residential leases in the area – pouring millions of dollars into the Downtown Core.”

In addition to the core program supplied during the Summer of Acceleration, other activities that the accelerator teams participate in include weekly Friday office hours with business leaders and corporate partners. The teams will also be involved in industry events including the 36/86 Conference and a VIP networking event at the Levitt Shell during a concert. The program culminates on August 11 with Demo Day at the Halloran Center, when the startup teams pitch their business to potential investors, customers, and the entrepreneurial community.

Start Co.’s growth adds to an already strong technology-based business footprint at 88 Union Center. Lokion Interactive maintains four floors in the building and RocketFuel has an entire floor as well. Nearly two hundred technology and creative professionals work across 40,000 square feet of the building.

“We believe that ‘Density is Destiny.’ 88 Union Center is becoming more and more of a vertical technology campus,” said Mathews. “With the growth of Archer Malmo, Creative Works, Lokion, Y&R, and many other firms the density of creative workers within one block of 88 Union is driving the idea velocity necessary to enhance the grow our innovation economy.”

Eric Mathews conceived the design of the expanded space. Tony Fields and Jeff Witt of Belz Architecture + Construction served as general contractor and architect, respectively. The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc., and many local, regional, and national partners, sponsors, funders and donors contributed funds for the Start Lab expansion.

5 Takeaways from Founders Dinner with Brad Silver

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29f65d7On Monday, May 23rd, Quire CEO Brad Silver came to talk to our accelerator teams at the weekly Founders Dinner. Quire seeks to make the deep resource of doctor-patient interactions more quantifiable and transferable by translating clinical notes into useful, searchable data. With an abundance of experience in management and entrepreneurship, Mr. Silver shared his knowledge of the difficulties that come with starting a business and managing a team of employees. Here are five key takeaways from his talk with our founders.

  1. Make sure your team is right

“Slow to hire, quick to fire.” This may sound a bit ruthless but when building a company, you have to be extremely careful that every member of your team is a good fit. Mr. Silver emphasized that you must be purposeful about your culture and not be afraid to drop a team member that is disrupting that culture if you want to build a successful business.

  1. Part of your role as a manager is to shield your team’s stress

It’s your team’s job to focus, but it’s your job to keep them focused. If you want your team to be productive you have to take some of the burden of stress and responsibility off their shoulders. That also means serving as the chief supporter and barrier breaker within the company. This may seem like a lot of responsibility, but as the manager you have to be stronger than the rest of your team. You have to “find it within yourself to stay strong,” or your employees won’t have a source to draw strength from.

  1. Be an agent of change

It’s hard to be caught off guard by change when you’re the one initiating it. When you are that agent of change it helps you to better manage the change that is unwanted but inevitable. Mr. Silver says that his willingness to enact change, take initiative, and be productive has helped him to know what he can and should take action on.

  1. Know when to pivot

The world of consumer wants is an ever-changing landscape. It can be an incredibly difficult decision to change your company’s direction, but if you don’t you could end up with a failed business. A different company is better than a dead one. Listen to your customers, and be willing to modify your company’s offering if it becomes clear you’re in the wrong area, as Mr. Silver did with Quire.

  1. Focus on what you can control

The entrepreneurial lifestyle is a “bipolar existence”. There are huge hills and valleys, ups and downs. For Mr. Silver, one of the ups included closing a $2.6 million investment round, while a down was being given the go ahead on a proposal only to have it completely shut down at the last minute because the internal dynamics of the situation got in the way. As a founder, you must be able to motivate yourself in both the good and the bad times, no matter how hard that may seem. “Take solace in the things you can control,” and don’t dwell too much on the things you can’t.


Grant Hechinger is a Start Co. Summer Associate and a rising senior at Rhodes College. He can be reached at grant.hechinger@neverstop.co.

Alumni Spotlight: Q&A with Front Door

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A graduate of the 2015 Upstart accelerator program, Front Door is changing the game in real estate. Founder and CEO Jessica Buffington, a former real estate agent, saw a problem in the industry and decided to correct it. Front Door’s mission statement states: “We believe that selling your home should be a simple process and one that does not drain your wallet. We match homeowners with real estate professionals who are the best in their class. Our network of agents have already agreed to fully represent our homeowners and sell their home for one flat price of $2,500, instead of a 3% commission fee. Because everyone deserves to sell their home with peace of mind and save money in the process.” We sat down with Jessica and asked her a few questions about the business and their experience in the Upstart accelerator program.

 

BLUELOGOQ: Why did you start Front Door? What problems did you see that needed to be addressed? How does Front Door address them?

A: Front Door is founded by real estate professionals who have worked the grounds in the industry. Over the years we saw a huge pain that could not go ignored; real estate was not affordable nor innovative. So, we set out on a mission to empower homeowners to keep more of their home equity and revolutionize real estate once and for all. Front Door was born and within three months of launching, has already saved home sellers $151,000 in commission fees and counting.

 

Q: How did you discover Start Co. and how did the Upstart accelerator program help Front Door grow as a business?

A: I actually read a blog about Start Co. 48 hours before the applications were due. I knew we had an idea that could be taken on a national level, so I applied and here we are. Upstart was huge in our company’s success. Mara Lewis was a great mentor, turned advisor. We owe a lot of our success to her and her network. Upstart gave us many tools to empower us as female entrepreneurs.

 

Q: How has Front Door progressed since going through the Start Co. Upstart program in 2015?

A: Since beginning the Upstart program, we’ve grown a lot – both as individuals and a company. We’ve hired a CTO andjessicasmall are expanding our team gradually with people who share the same passion for real estate as we do. We’ve maneuvered the startup world and are constantly learning to improve ourselves and the company. We’ve gained traction and now have 95 listings under our platform and 50 realtors nationwide.

 

Q: What’s the best advice you could give to new startup founder’s on how to move their business forward?

A: I think the best advice to give to a new startup founder is to be open to different pieces of advice. Even if you think you know what is the best for your company and business, you should leverage your network of mentors and advisors. Sometimes a different view looking in could provide insight on how to grow and help it succeed.

 

Q: What’s the plan for Front Door’s future?

A: The future of Front Door is to change the way real estate is sold. We want to be the company that dominates this space and with our one-of-a-kind technology, we know we can do that.

 

Q: Is there anything else you want readers to know about Front Door?

A: So far, we are the only women-led company in the real estate space. We’re also the only company with real estate backgrounds.


Front Door is a 2015 Upstart alumnus. To chat with or contact them, visit their website at www.listyourfrontdoor.com.

Slovenia Entrepreneurs Move to Memphis to Continue Building Chore App

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The Homey team

HomeyLabs (Memphis, TN) – A start-up company from Slovenia, Europe joined Start Co’s summer accelerator program, Upstart, a cohort for women-led startups. Their iOS and Android mobile app – called Homey – gamifies household chores for families, motivates kids to do chores and enables easier chore management for parents. The team behind Homey decided to come to Memphis after they discovered the majority of their users come from the Mid South.

The app launched 5 months ago but the story began long before that. It started when the founders were living together as students. They had the same problem many families face: nobody was doing their chores!! And that’s where Homey began. Truth is, there is a demand. Right now, 61% of parents in the US pay allowance to their kids and 89% of them require their kids to work for money. With it clear that small rewards and recognition are great motivators for kids, their business idea was born. When the beta version launched, parents started reaching out to them and before long they had hundreds of families waiting in line to try Homey.

It’s getting hard to reach children with paper chore charts, especially since they spend so much time on their smartphones. But Homey is fun, motivating and social. Homey’s biggest advantage: it works with photos, so kids have to take a photo of each chore they do. The photos motivate kids to do a better work and but they also show parents what’s actually being done around the house.

Homey also connects chores to rewards, so that the kids or the whole family together can work towards the rewards the adults set – the reward could be anything; weekly allowance, screen time or a family trip to the zoo.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 3.26.31 PM

HomeyLabs was founded by Sanja Zepan and Saso Pompe. The couple has been together for eight years; that’s a lot of chores!! Sanja studied communication, with a focus on how modern families communicate. She works on marketing for Homey. Saso is a developer, former CTO, who studied business economics and marketing. They’ve both been involved in educational tech startups, and that’s where they met their two excellent developers – Sandi Mihelic and Vid Staric – who joined them last Summer.

The Homey team came to Memphis to talk to parents and kids already using their app and to try and grow their product more by making business partnerships and connections in this region.

If you want to try out if Homey app works for your family, you can download it on the App Store and Google Play, or you can visit their website at www.homeyapp.net. If you have any feedback about Homey, they would love to talk to you at feedback@homeyapp.net.


Sanja Zepan is the Co-founder and CMO of the Homey App

 

The Benefits of Staying Small

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At first it may seem that entrepreneurs are facing insurmountable competition from huge multinational corporations. They assume that because their established competitors have larger budgets and more manpower that they are better positioned to be competitive in the marketplace. Start ups face many other challenges to such as few customers and low credibility, that are inherent in all new businesses. However, these do not always need to be disadvantages. There are many different ways that startups can utilize all the factors working against them and turn them in their favor. In his chapter, “Do More Faster”, David Cohen discusses several different ways start up companies can do leverage these apparent obstacles to their advantage.

 

  • Start ups don’t have the bureaucratic baggage of larger corporations. Bureaucracy slows down larger companies by discouraging risk. Risk takers have a higher chance of a political fall in a large established business because when they are wrong they usually are fired or lose credibility. In a good start up environment the opposite of this happens. Risk taking is encouraged, and failures are not looked down upon. They are seen as lessons.
  • Start ups can better adjust to their customers’ input. One of the best qualities of startups is that they can be so open minded to what their customers want. An example is how one startup began as an image sharing website, but when its customers started using it for something totally different (embedding photos on other sites) they were able to shift at a moments notice and start making the customer’s new found use for the service easier and more direct.
  • Start ups only focus on one specific market. This specialization allows them to perfect one small specific product to best cater to their customers’ need. The wide variety of products that the larger competing companies offer can actually act to their disadvantage. This could happen when a company with a broad product line lets one of their products slip. If they lose credibility for that product their customers are likely not to purchase other products from them. This prompted Jeffrey Powers, co-founder of Occipital, to warn startups against trying to grow too big too fast in his chapter titled “Be Tiny Until You Shouldn’t Be”.

 

 


Matt Renzo is a junior at Rhodes College completing an academic internship at Start Co. You can reach him at renmj-17@rhodes.edu.

What I’ve Learned in My Time at Start Co.

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When I began my internship at Start Co. in January, I was just a business major in an internship class looking for something interesting to be a part of. I knew very little about entrepreneurship and what it takes to build and grow a startup in today’s fast-paced business world. But I came with an open mind and a desire to learn, not only because I was interested, but also because my college career is winding down faster than I could ever have imagined and now is the time to learn if I’m going to survive in postgraduate life.

What I have learned in the almost two months I’ve been an intern at Start Co. is that an idea is just the start of building a company. Of course it’s important to find an area of consumer need and a way to effectively fill that need. That’s a critical step in the startup process. But a great idea is a dime a dozen.

What it really takes to be successful in the entrepreneurial world is passion and a drive to succeed. There have been a million great ideas that you have never heard of — or that somebody else ended up doing better — because their creators were not driven to make them succeed no matter the obstacles.

Every startup team that works at Start Co., from Preteckt to Front Door, has that drive and that is how they have gotten as far as they have with their companies. They all started with an idea that they were passionate about and believed could make a difference, and they stuck with it. They have also possess the other key trait of successful entrepreneurs: a willingness to listen to their consumers’ needs and adapt their product to fit those needs. You cannot have a one-track mind when it comes to your business plan. An unwillingness to adapt is one of the surest ways to guarantee failure for your startup. The world is changing rapidly and your company must change with it if you want to succeed.

Any good investor will tell you that when they make an investment, they are investing more in the person than the idea. They are betting that that entrepreneur’s drive to make their startup a success will be able overcome the challenges that come along the way. An idea does not create a business, people do.


Grant Hechinger is a junior at Rhodes College completing an academic internship at Start Co. You can reach him at hecgm-17@rhodes.edu.

College Students Make Great Entrepreneurs

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Why should a college student or recent graduate start a business? To be honest, this is a difficult question for me to answer. At first, all I could think of were reasons why college students or recent graduates should not start a business. Numerous reasons came to mind including our lack of experience, societal pressures and norms regarding college students. This actually surprised me that this was my initial train of thought due to the fact that my parents have very strong entrepreneurial minds. I grew up learning what it means to own a business, to take risks, and to fail, as well as the feeling of being successful. The reasons why I thought negatively about starting a business in college or right after stems from the very thinking that students do not have enough experience in such matters. The more I thought about the question though, the more I realized neither do any other entrepreneurs, no matter the age or past experience!

Each start-up process is unique and catered toward a target audience, the product, and their willingness to make their product or service successful. For that reason, I began thinking that students are actually probably some of the best people to start a business because they are young, persistent, and hungry for success. In addition, students’ minds are not yet disheartened and still strive for challenges rather than just settling for mediocrity. College students also have the least to lose because generally speaking they are providing solely for themselves or anyone else relying on them and are willing to try whatever it takes to become successful.

Being a senior, I am very sensitive to the pressure of what we are expected to do or become after graduating. Although my parents want the best for me and always support my decisions, they want me to either continue school or intern in order to gain more experience in the professional world. Society puts pressure on seniors and recent graduates to take their $100,000 education and turn it into a high-paying, successful job overnight. Additionally, peers challenge each other to have the best internship, fellowship, or graduate school because there is a stigma that if you do not follow this route, then you will not be as successful. These pressures have forced me to think negatively about being self-employed after graduation; however, there is no better experience than building a company from the ground up! Internships, fellowships, and more schooling cannot teach life and business lessons as well as the trial and error of starting a business. For these reasons, perhaps starting a business out of college is actually a better step for some people than others. Maybe following a passion and committing to it is better than following society’s suggested steps to success!

After working through my thoughts and initial concerns, I want to revisit the question: Why should a college student or recent graduate start a business? Now is the time to start a business because why not, what does one have to lose? There is not a better time in our lives to commit to building a company. College students want to make a difference in the world. We want to follow our dreams and find what motivates us to work. If the service or good requires a change in location then let’s move! If the service or good requires a large investment then we can access resources and networks through our college, community, and social media. The only limit to recent graduates and college students is themselves! Additionally, mentors are more likely to allow recent graduates to ask them for advice because they want to help. Utilizing these opportunities will make students more successful in their start-ups and will allow them to follow their own path.


Alexandra Carr is a senior at Rhodes College. You can reach her at caran-16@rhodes.edu