10 Things They Don't Teach You in College About Entrepreneurship


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Presentation I gave to the Northeastern University Entrepreneurship Club on February 14th, 2012.

This presentation covers what I and friends I spoke with said were the things they wished they'd learned in school as well as how to start learning those skills while in school.

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  • I went to this school and gave them lots of money. First to get a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, then for a Master’s in Technological Entrepreneurship.
  • I have a degree in Electrical Engineering. In the most literal sense, I NEVER use it today and haven’t for years. But I still wouldn’t trade my time in college for anything. You have more freedom and independence than you’ll ever have. It’s like training wheels for real life…if the training wheels came with copious amounts of beer.
  • #10: How to Email: Do NOT send people books! People are generally helpful, but only if the email is specific and to the point.
  • If you reach out to someone for help, know why you're asking them specifically. Are they an expert on marketing and you're looking for some marketing tips? Are they a great developer and you have questions about a new Ruby gem you're thinking about using for your project? Are they a super connector and you wanted to see if they knew someone that could help with a specific problem? Mentors are here to help; I've rarely met anyone that didn't want to give of their time to help others. However, they have their greatest impact when you ask them for help in an area they have expertise.  Next time you're looking for help, think about specifically what would be the most important thing you could learn from them. Asking to meet for coffee to get feedback on your idea is probably too vague and decreases your odds of getting a desired response. 
  • Live with roommates – It’s MUCH cheaper….just make sure they’re people you don’t hate. Buy in bulk & cook that way too – Saves you time and money on the food budget Always ask for a discount – when you’re a student use that, and when you’re not, try other excuses. Say you’re a startup. Cars are expensive – avoid if you can.
  • the success and failure of your company will rise and fall based on the ability of you and your cofounders to lead. Good team dynamics do not come naturally. The soft skills often get overlooked as people focus on making pitch decks, writing marketing plans and building prototypes, but should not be overlooked.  Unfortunately, school projects don't count as leadership training. The graded incentive, shortened timeline of working together and the fact that usually you can't fire a weak link means it's a totally different experience than a group of people working on a project while balancing other jobs and responsibilities. The good news is, leading a club or running an intramural sports team are great op
  • Trying to do something you don’t normally do (engineering or business) will expand your skills and also earn the respect of your new peers. Everyone LOVES helping others and making themselves look smart.
  • I’d love to tell you a powerpoint deck and a smile will get you a check, but that’s just not the case.
  • So much of what I do now as an entrepreneur is pattern matching. From customer development interviews to matching what I hear and learn around me, it's all pattern matching.  Often too much of college is just reading and reciting back what you were shown by a professor or read in a book. It doesn't hone skills in pattern matching. You can hone these skills by reading up on subjects you're interested in. Stay current on tech blogs and try to use multiple people's views to understand the real picture; everyone has a slant. 
  • In startups you have to be very comfortable with failure. In academia, unless you're a researcher, you don't see much failure. Instead, you're constantly driven by your test grades, where failing would be a terrible thing. Don't be confused: Your goal is not to fail at anything . However, no startup succeeds at everything they try. You should set out to succeed at everything you do, but then look to learn from every attempt in marketing, sales, engineering and any other experiment you make. Even if your startup as a whole fails, there's a tremendous amount to learn from it. The key is to not fail the same way twice. 
  • 10 Things They Don't Teach You in College About Entrepreneurship

    1. 1. 10 Things About Entrepreneurship They Don’t Teach You in College … and how to learn them Jason Evanish CEO / Co-Founder Greenhorn Connect, LLC February 14, 2012 Entrepreneur’s Club Northeastern University
    2. 2. Who am I? <ul><li>BS EE ‘08 </li></ul><ul><li>MS TE ‘09 </li></ul><ul><li>Co-founder Greenhorn Connect </li></ul><ul><li>Lean Startups Disciple </li></ul>
    3. 3. 10 Things About Entrepreneurship They Don’t Teach You in College … and how to learn them
    4. 4. First, a Public Service Announcement…
    5. 5. #10: How to Email
    6. 6. How to really email <ul><li>Use the http://three.sentenc.es/ Model: </li></ul><ul><li>Greeting + Who you & your startup are </li></ul><ul><li>What you’re looking for / Why contacting </li></ul><ul><li>End with your ASK </li></ul>
    7. 7. Three.Sentenc.es Example <ul><li>Hi David, </li></ul><ul><li>My name is Jason Evanish and I’m the founder of GreenhornConnect.com , a site with all the startup resources, events and jobs in Boston. </li></ul><ul><li>We’re currently working hard to improve our customer acquisition and Janet told me you’re an expert in this. I’d love to hear some of your insights. </li></ul><ul><li>Would you be available for coffee or a call next week? You can see my availability here: http://tungle.me/Evanish </li></ul><ul><li>Thanks, Jason </li></ul>
    8. 8. #9: How to Ask for Help & Engage Mentors
    9. 9. What to do <ul><li>Be specific </li></ul><ul><li>Know why you’re asking </li></ul><ul><li>Have a goal end result </li></ul><ul><li>Be mindful of their time </li></ul>
    10. 10. #8: How to $ell
    11. 11. Learn How to Sell… Anything! www.youtube.com / watch?v =zCf46yHIzSo
    12. 12. #7: How to Live Lean
    13. 13. Greenhorn Hacks for Living Lean
    14. 14. #6: How to Lead a Team
    15. 15. How to Learn to Lead Class Projects
    16. 16. #5: How to work with people in other disciplines
    17. 17. Start a Side Project
    18. 18. Try to Learn and Ask for Help!
    19. 19. #4: How to Build a Network
    20. 20. Everything You Need to Know About Networking
    21. 21. …and a site you might find helpful for networking in Boston
    22. 22. #3: The Who, What, When, Where, Why & How of Fundraising
    23. 24. Signs You’re Ready to Raise Money <ul><li>You have paying customers or millions of users. </li></ul><ul><li>You know exactly how much money you need. </li></ul><ul><li>You know how you’d spend it to the last dollar. </li></ul><ul><li>You can demonstrate the market potential. </li></ul>
    24. 25. #2: Pattern Matching
    25. 26. Pattern Matching – Forming your own opinion based on hearing views from others.
    26. 27. #1: Handling Failure
    27. 28. Solution – Start Something!
    28. 29. Coming Feb 22 nd @ The BU School of Management Sign up here: http:// bostonstartupfair.eventbrite.com Work at a Startup!
    29. 30. Contact Info <ul><li>Twitter: @Evanish & @GreenhornBoston </li></ul><ul><li>Email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>The site: www.GreenhornConnect.com </li></ul><ul><li>www.facebook.com/GreenhornConnect </li></ul><ul><li>Greenhorn Linked in Group </li></ul>