How to succeed as a student startup
There are thousands of startups formed in the United States every year, making it more challenging to stand out and stay competitive. The most successful student startups are Microsoft, Facebook and WordPress, which are valued at billions of dollars. There is an obvious similarity in how these successful companies became successful: They either determined a need in the market or created a new market themselves.
“I always think that you should start with the problem that you're trying to solve in the world and not start with deciding that you want to build a company,” said Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, in an interview with Y Combinator President Sam Altman. “And the best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive some kind of social change, even if it's just local in one place, more than starting out because you want to make a bunch of money or have a lot of people working for you or build some company in some way.”
Experts agree that finding a problem or a special need in the market is a good way to start building your company.
Four of the top 10 causes of small business failures are no market need by 42 percent, running out of cash by 29 percent, not the right team by 23 percent and getting outcompeted by 19 percent, according to CB Insights findings. This data shows the importance of developing market strategy and building a good team before starting off as a business.
One of the most common problems college students face in the way of starting their own business is being unable to find a way to fund it.
When it comes to funding your idea, many colleges provide resources to encourage students to start their own businesses.
On BestColleges.com, the top schools listed as “The Best Colleges for Startups” are Stanford University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley and University of Pennsylvania, respectively.
These universities provide entrepreneurship centers for special guidance and professional mentorship, as well as access to monetary resources from alumni and investors.
The CUNY Startups program is another resource that helps students from all CUNY schools learn how to succeed as startups. CUNY Startups Accelerator takes place between March and May every year. Once a year, 13 selected startups from all CUNY schools participate in a six-week boot camp preparing them for the New York City Roadshow.
Two hours are spent building up students’ knowledge, and another two hours are spent working with mentors each week throughout the program.
The requirements to participate in the program are to have at least one CUNY student in the group and a minimum of two co-founders involved with the startup.
With the current market competition, it is not easy to find funds for startups as college students. However, most colleges are providing resources for the student entrepreneurs to get started with their businesses.
For those who do not have access to those programs, networking events and business plan competitions can be further steps to stand out and get funding from bigger companies and investors.