I can't say enough about how great a feeling it is to talk to entrepreneurs. There is just an air of excitement around them just because of the fact that they are doing something they are passionate about. These people are the ultimate "do-it-yourself"-ers.
This past week, I spent time in the Bay Area meeting with a few startups. Being a student definitely has its advantages...one being the ability to open doors. As a student, when you ask to meet a company, you are seen as harmless and inquisitive. Furthermore, many companies welcome your visit with open arms. As a non-student, either unemployed or employed, you are seen kind of as a nuisance.
During my trip, I met up with the founders of Spark Parking, TravelPost (recently acquired by SideStep), and meebo. I asked the founders the same set questions centered around what it takes to start up a company. Should I seek investors? When is the right time? How do I find the right people? When do I know if my idea is a good one? Although I have worked for a couple startups, I had a lot of other questions. It is very different if you are the one actually leading the charge and much more intimidating.
At the end of my meetings, I came out with some key takeaways:
1) Believe in your idea! If you think you have a need for your idea, chances are there are millions of other people who also have the same need. To be a successful entrepreneur, you also have to believe more than others. It is this dedication that sets you apart.
2) Be resourceful! If you believe in your idea, then find the best way to execute with the least amount of cost. Don't reinvent the wheel, especially when someone else is selling what you need at a lower price than you could make it for. Open source is great.
3) Sell! You must always be in constant sell mode. In addition, you need to regularly fine tune your pitch based off of feedback from customers, investors, and partners.
4) Plan for the future! As a web company, this means make sure you use technology that is easily transferable. You'll never know when your lead programmer will leave, so making sure someone else can pick up where things are left off is critical.
I was also able to bounce my business idea off of them and get some good feedback. Let's see how things go from here...