David B. Lerner

Dave Lerner, 3x Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Host of Venture Studio
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Director of Columbia University Venture Lab, Blogger, Community Organizer, Golfer-in-Exile.

What Every Student Entrepreneur Needs to Know to Succeed (2) Get Connected!

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Startupcommunity

This is part of my new Series on Student Entrepreneurship

In the first post in this series I encouraged you to take stock of where you are and to understand your unique position in world-history as a student entrepreneur. Your awareness of the surreal advantages you have over every student entrepreneur that has come before you is massively important. So let's assume that this has sunk-in. Now what?

Very simple. All the folks on the side-lines have been talking about startup bubbles these days. How about your own bubble? That's right- how about getting out of the bubble that you are in. 

Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Trevor Owens and the whole lean start-up crew tell you to "get out of the building". They're right...

But I'm telling you to actually get the heck off campus and go to where the startup action is. (If you're in New York that means downtown by the way.)

What do I mean? You need to dive into the startup community of your city or town wherever you live. Get a list of all the events each Monday morning and go to as many as you can possibly attend. Meet everyone, be friendly- have fun and get involved- don't be a wall flower. The best way to get to know people is to work with them and engage. So, I'm talking about you jumping all over the various meetups, hackathons, startup talks, startup weekends, lean startup competitions, entrepreneurship talks, conferences, cocktail parties, entrepreneurship weeks, breakfasts, dinners, societies, roundtables available.

When I tell students to do this, some say: "But what do I say to people when I'm there?", or "I don't really know anyone, it's a bit intimidating".

Actually- the reality is that the startup ecosystems are an incredibly welcoming and warm environment. People in the startup community aren't a bunch of uptight careerists decked-out in suits. For the most part it's comprised of people like you who want nothing to do with corporate personalities and environments. If you're a student they're typically extra-welcoming. Just be honest and tell folks you are a student and are diving-into the startup community. You'll typically get high-fives.

And remember- the key is this: Roll-up your sleeves and participate. Pull an all-nighter at a hackathon with a makeshift team, sign up for a leanstartup competition, present your un-baked ideas at incubation events. Before you know it you'll know everyone and they'll know you. You'll feel that team spirit and esprit de corps and it will change you forever. 

You'll be out of the campus bubble now and will be part of the world you need to know intimately if you want to be an entrepreneur.

You'll be Connected

For Part 3 of the Series Click Here

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