Thoughts On Building Your Startup Whilst In College / Hi, I'm Leo

social-network-movie-review-5321488Ever since the Social Network was released, it feels there is a new hype building up around creating your own “thing”. Which will eventually turn into Facebook or something.

Hiten Shah, someone I truly respect for his startup achievements brought me onto this and reflected upon it in this week’s newsletter. He brought it to the point succinctly: Building a startup is not sexy.

The impression that Sean Parker’s will blow your mind, hit you up with hot chicks and much more is just, well, not very realistic.

For the past 6 months I have been involved in building a startup and my experiences were entirely different. Being in my 2nd year into University I thought of sharing my thoughts on what happened to be reality for me.

Starting whilst in college is fantastic

By taking up an opportunity to build a business whilst you are in college brings lots of different positives. To me the most important point is that you have little pressure. No one expects you to earn money, no one expects you to know things. You can just dive in and work on something you like. The business aspect often only becomes evident much later anyways.

Another point is that you have lots of free time and aren’t tied down to a family. This gives you a chance to experiment lots, without having time issues on your mind.

What I realized only later on is that you are also in a great environment, away from home, if we are talking a Campus university here. This allowed me to escape the natural bias my parents’ thoughts would have. It freed my mind and made me open to the new and unexplored.

Gaining Focus

One of the biggest problems for me though was to gain focus. In my first year at University startups were always on my mind. So were about a million other things. I got involved with clubs, societies, sports teams and much more. At the end of the year, I was aiming for top marks too.

This led to me being busy 24/7 and achieving something no one is interested in: mediocrity. At the end of the year, I was worn out and had lost some motivation. It was time for a change. From the dozens of different things, I decided to cut it down: to 1 thing only.

So the change in my second year, couldn’t be any more radical. I stopped my activities in all clubs, societies and sports clubs. I dropped initiatives with the university and stopped attending any lectures. Instead of good marks, I was aiming to just pass, with the lowest marks possible.

In return though, I would focus on one thing: my startup.

And that’s what I did. Every day, for the past 5 months, all I would do is work and focus on pushing Buffer further. And I couldn’t be any happier with the results. We just reached ramen profitability, booked our flight to Silicon Valley and are determined to continue to try helping more people to do well with Twitter.

It’s not sexy, but a lot of fun

So my experience is that building your startup is definitely not sexy. Not even if you are in College. It means you get fully immersed in the field you are operating in. You work your ass off and you try everything to push it further.

The best part is that I enjoy every minute of doing it. The words:

“Don’t be scared to focus” ~ @HnShah

might explain it best. It’s well worth dropping everything else if you get fulfillment from the work you are doing.

What is your experience? Do you think it matters when you start your own projects? Are some times better than others? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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