To Stand Out, Find Your Niche
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 02:10
Entrepreneurship. This word has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue over the past few years, gaining popularity among mainstream media, through movies like “The Social Network”. Some say entrepreneurship can be taught; others say it’s in your blood. For me, entrepreneurship has come about from a certain set of life experiences mixed with a healthy dose of ambition. I would say to you, current Georgetown students, begin testing your ideas, however impossible, on a small scale. You might surprise yourself. We live in an easy-access world; there are so many apps and sites to take your vision from idea to reality. Throw up a cheap website for your organic vegan cookie store, or mock up a demo for the next music sharing app. Here are a few other tips to help you along on the path to entrepreneurship.
Find a mentor
Maybe it’s a professor or that senior executive at your last internship. It doesn’t have to be as formal as a marriage proposal, just keep communication open with the person whose advice you respect and admire. This person might change over time, as it has for me. Starting my career in the advertising industry in London after grad school there, I found people to reach out to in order to learn about their journey and how I could reach their level in the ad world. Upon returning to New York, the startup tech community was calling my name, and I have since found a new group of professionals I respect and look to for advice on my new path. As you sense your goals shift through trial and error, you will realize new role models for yourself whom you can look up to for mentorship.
Become an expert on your subject
The economy is heading towards niche markets in every sector. Even if you don’t end up living off of your own business directly after finishing your degree, knowing an area on an expert level is extremely beneficial to your career. Be that person in the room whom they defer to for advice on your subject. You can even self-publish a book in today’s technological era. With the click of a button, you can share your views with that expert perspective. The world is now calling for quality over quantity — own it.
Look into programs to take your idea to the next level
If you’ve already gotten an idea off the ground and think you’re ready to take your business to the next level, there are many ways to expand upon your startup. First Round Capital has a fund run by students for students, called the Dorm Room Fund. This fund allows for students to get started on their businesses at an early stage with access to capital and mentorship. Reza Chowdhury, (GRD ‘07) CEO of NY Startup Lab, which works with early stage entrepreneurs shares, “Students now have a growing and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem, both within and outside of academia, available to them that they should take full advantage of while they are determining their future career paths.”
Enjoy this time for exploring your thoughts during schooling. Take advantage of it and try out entrepreneurship — whatever the word means to you.
Marley Kaplan is founder of mkThinkTank, a consulting agency that advises brands on how to navigate the emerging technology startup landscape.