Students, fail fast, fail today to innovate tomorrow

7th Sep 2014
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As an entrepreneur, it’s important to have failed and learnt from it. Not everyone would have had the experience of running startups, so be ready to fail today to succeed tomorrow with your ventures.No one wants to fail today, but just being aware that it is possible to fail today and open to learning from it is important. The willingness to accept failure and retrospect, gives the ability to mitigate risk.

We all wish if we had failed yesterday and had only successes today. But how will you have success tomorrow without learning from today's failure? All major principles in design or entrepreneurship like design thinking, lean startup, business model canvas talk about the importance of iteration, which is nothing but failing fast and learning from it.

As a student, one has the liberty to fail and still no one questions their credibility because they know that she/he is learning. When you are a student, you have few family pressures and it’s much easier to get access to resources like teammates, free-mentoring (advice), and getting interns for your startup from your very own class, or college or school. The older you get, the greater the responsibilities and therefore lesser the capacity to take risk or innovate. When you graduate, you probably need to support yourself, your family and in some cases, have to get married.

It is easier to spread the brand of your startup while you are a part of a larger interconnected community like a college / school than when you are isolated. That is the advantage of being in places like Bangalore or Silicon Valley. The people around you talk about your venture when they meet another person with similar interests.

You have the support of your school/college and support of your friends / classmates. This gives an edge for your startup over others who are isolated. The bottom line is if you are a student who is passionate about starting, now is the best time to make those mistakes while you can still explore and learn from your mistakes.

Our education system does not appreciate failure or making mistakes. However, with the startup fever across the country growing exponentially every day, we can fairly assume that this outlook towards education will change soon.

Some common myths students believe in:

Assume that real-life problems are domain specific: For example, when you are studying mechanical engineering, it’s important to work on CAD (Computer Aided Drawing), but that does not mean you can avoid electronics with the prototype / product you are trying to make. Any given product in the real world is built when skills from several domains come together. For an electric fan: experts in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and fluid dynamics, need to work together to build one.

More certificates mean better placements: Nowadays, it is a common trend among students to think that certificates will lead to a better resume. Any person who is hiring hardly asks for a certificate for your achievements. Rather, they ask the story behind your achievement or failure. They care more about your learning experience than about your certificate.

Staying safe is always better: Most students do not explore new things during their student life. They do not want to get out of their comfort zone. For example, it could be speaking in public, volunteering for a non-profit or something that is outside the general skill set a student possesses. A person evolves only when they come out of their comfort zone.

To-dos for students:

Learn the skill of problem solving:

If there is one skill that one must learn while as a student, it is problem solving. Not just a math problem, but real-life problems.

Can you fix your electrical problems at home?

Can you solve a problem that you notice in the public while travelling?

Can you build a solution for a common problem that you see around you every day? Asking these simple questions will make you re-think your way of learning.

Get a feel for startup:

It is important to get a feel of starting up during student life. Interning with a startup or creating your own startup with a bunch of classmates who have complementary skills is an excellent way to learn new things.

About the Author

Adithya Pasupuleti works in the space of student innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the Founder at Innovation 101, which empowers student innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs. He has worked with several organizations like HTIC - IIT Madras, IIM Bangalore, Stanford India Biodesign, Ganit Labs, IISc-Bangalore and NCBS for various capacities. During his graduation, he started a non-profit called Little Seva that supports underprivileged children. Adithya can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/padithya or adithya1869@gmail.com

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