I spent the second half of 2012 in southern India working with college students trying to build campus startups. It was an extremely exciting six months for me. I was blown away by the interest brewing about entrepreneurship in college campuses today. There are E-cells being setup in campuses across the country. Startups are in the wind and it is a very good development. I realized just how rich
India is in human resources. If this energy can be channelized in the right direction, awesome thing can happen. Here is what I would like to tell these budding campus entrepreneurs. How I wish someone had told this to me when I was starting.Know whom to listen to
Entrepreneurship is about learning by tinkering, if it could be learned by reading a book, everybody would be doing it. Do not listen to folks teaching entrepreneurship. Instead connect with experienced entrepreneurs successful or not. Most of them have gone through similar pains and would happily talk to someone trying to walk the same path.
Failure is part of game, fail big
Time is your biggest asset. Use it to iterate as much as possible. When you are in your twenties you can fail multiple times without effecting your professional life. Use this fact to your advantage. Aim higher, solve bigger problems, target global markets. If you have to fail (and you will, more often than not) it is much better to fail at doing something big. The higher you aim, the sooner you will discover your limit.
Entrepreneurship is about being brash
People tend to over glamorize struggle. Success has more to do with bold moves than with sustained struggle. Resilience is necessary but not sufficient. Being an entrepreneur means you will have to decide on the fly with very little information. You will screwup a lot (I know, I do). Learn from your mistakes and move on. Follow your gut and others will follow you. You have very little to lose.
Develop a product mindset
The Indian technology industry is polluted by service thinking. There is nothing wrong with service, but the real big opportunities are in product building. For the simple reason that the marginal cost of a software product is zero. However, product building is risky, the probability of success is extremely slim. Product companies succeed or fail spectacularly. Never the less, building intellectual property is the quickest road to solving big problems.
Find your own path, experience is overrated
There are no universal rules that works for everyone. You have to find the path that works best for you. This means listening to everyone and absorbing what is relevant to you. Entrepreneurship is about breaking the rules, it is more about using the middle finger than about implementing what they teach you in MBA school. I got an MBA and yet I learned a hundred times more from screwing up my first startup. Do what feels right and know that experienced people are wrong more often than they care to admit.
Don't do startups because it is cool or fashionable. Do it because you want to change the world. In the end you become an entrepreneur not because you want to, but because you cannot help it.
Author Credit - Saikat Ghosh is the founder and CEO of Taskera. Prior to this he was the founder and CEO of ValleySpeak. He has over
20 years of experience being a software architect and startup founder. His interests are in creating disruptive startups using Linux and open source technologies.He can be found at a Star Bucks in San Jose or at www.techlibido.com or www.hashfoundry.co