So, while coming over to GIKI, I’ve been asking myself: What could I talk to students regarding entrepreneurship? After meeting many fellow entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed a few qualities in them that students can instill in themselves. The most important quality is pushing your limits. Entrepreneurs push the limits of what is current possible in society. In order to do that you need to start with yourself. Many of us live in our comfort zones; going about the same routines, doing the same things. How much can you know about yourself if you don’t try new things? So, give a speech, join a football club, take part in a drama. Give it your 110%. Surprise yourself.
Entrepreneurs do new things; they create new powerful ideas. People who believe in your ideas do so because they believe in you and your ability to deliver them. How can someone believe in you, invest in you, buy from you etc if you don’t believe in yourself? There are many critics but you need find your path and believe in yourself.
Its important to give it your best shot. It’s easy to give up with a half-hearted effort. Even a good idea fails with good execution. But great execution coupled with luck is what makes powerful changes in the world. So, stop satisfycing; stop doing the minimum required from you and be the best you can be.
Because of our history in the past 300 years or so; we’ve seen defeat after defeat. There are little or no role-models; there is no big success story. It’s easy to say “that’s the way it is in Pakistan” and move on. But in my experience there’s nothing you can’t do with enough passion. Revolutionaries, scientists, poets, writers, inventors are all ordinary people like you and me. The difference is that they truly believe they can do it; they gave it their best; luck (aka God) was on their side; the time was right and they did it.
You may feel inconsequential given your day-to-day problems, assignments, family etc but you are the best of the best in Pakistan. You are in a unique position to help Pakistan: you know the progress and technologies the west has developed and you can apply them to Pakistan. You have the resources, the backing and the vision to do so. Pakistan needs engineers like you to solve our greatest and toughest problems.
So, anyway: who is an entrepreneur?
You really can’t teach doing startups in 5 mins; but that’s not going to stop me from doing it!
What do you feel strongly about? Is it a major problem? A wrong you want to right? A cool opportunity? Find your calling. Muhammad Younas of Bangladesh created a bank for the poor a concept never before taken seriously. Edhi started the world’s largest volunteer network. Imran Khan built a world standard cancer research hospital in a country where everyone thought that even if every patient paid, you can’t build something like that. What’s your calling?
A startup is a temporary organization in search of a Scalable, Repeatable & Profitable Business Model. Repeat after me: Scalable, Repeatable & Profitable Business Model.
Once you find out how you’re going to make money (last slide); what’s the minimum you have to do to have customers pay you? Work on this cycle and improve it. Don’t go adding features early on that people don’t need. Don’t get distracted by shiny technology. And forgodsake, go out and meet customers from day one; even before the product is ready. Sell them the idea; show them mockups; get them to book orders in advance from you. The book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” is the best book on the subject.
Once you establish a business model, once you have people paying for your services/good you can then get more investment to grow faster by showing it to potential investors. An investor to start with, is a friend, family member or someone you know who has money to spare and knows you. That’s how all companies start esp. in the absence of institutionalized VCs in Pakistan.
Keep spending LOW. Do things on a shoestring budget. Do as much as you can yourself; this is hard for large company execs to understand who are accustomed to bureaucracy.
The risks I talked about are very real but you can minimize them if you are at your university. If you have a startup idea, start while you are at GIKI.