04 Nov

Startup Fever | College Student Epidemic

The crippled economy and high unemployment rate coupled with the plethora of inspirational stories of young entrepreneurs’ successful ventures has resulted in an ever-increasing number of college students starting their own businesses; many while still enrolled in classes!

Just yesterday I posted about New York Entrepreneur Week in New York City. The event will unite entrepreneurs to form new connections, inspire innovation and enable its attendees to share knowledge. After writing the post, I came across an article in Bloomberg Business Week titled, “Startup Fever: College Students Have it Bad.”

The Business Week article is a start of a new series that will take a look inside the world of startups; focusing primarily on MBAs and undergraduate business students who develop their ideas or launched a businesses while still in school. It highlights some remarkable Generation Y students who have followed their ideas from initial creation through the planning and development phase to their fruition and how their schools have aided them in the complicated process of becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur.

Contagious Enthusiasm

There are many factors in society that have motivated driven students to enter the workforce and become established in a given industry. However, more recently, those factors have begun to favor entrepreneurism and self-starters over typical entry-level positions. There are inspiration stories of young college dropouts scoring big on an idea mulled over at a local bar with friends turning into a billion dollar empire (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg) and foundations created to foster creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit (i.e. Kauffman Foundation and the Unreasonable Institute) motivating a growing number of Generation Y to launch their own businesses. Just look at some of the ventures that Business Week highlights on their own website: here.

Expanding Curricula

In response to the demand of current students, many colleges have begun to offer new courses, award grants and promote their own students’ entrepreneurial ventures in lei of more traditional curriculum. For example, Northwestern University has increased their entrepreneurial course offerings to a total of eight classes (originally only offering two). Furthermore, the Managing Director of MIT’s Entrepreneurship Center, William Aulet, stated, “The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is at an all-time high. The rock stars here are the entrepreneurs. It’s not the people who go to Wall Street.” After a recent survey of the 341 students currently enrolled in MIT’s Sloan School of Management it appears at almost 12% are interested in starting their own business post graduation (up from a mere 2.5% in 2007).

Exploiting Technology

Many believe the spike in entrepreneurial ventures is thanks to the incredibly low barriers to entry caused by new technology. Websites are incredibly easy to create, marketing costs have been reduced thanks to social media and online marketplaces connect importers and exporters with ease, creating an environment where the hardest part of successfully launching your next gambit is coming up with the concept.

Did you catch the fever? Share your story below.