There is no better time to start a start-up than during graduate school. That’s because the facilities available are second to none. What’s more, universities are always seeking the reputational boost of having the next big thing come from among their ranks. For this reason, they’ll often make resources available to you that you’d have to pay serious money to get when you’re not there.
Of course, some startups are better than others. So how do you know which is which? Where should you invest your effort and what are the kinds of ideas that are better left till after you’ve graduated? That’s a big question and we’re going to explore it at length in this article.
Technology innovation startups
If you’ve got some awesome technology idea – like the next Facebook or We Chat, then university is a good place to start it. After all, there are few things that young people beat older people at as undeniably as technology. You guys just get that stuff better than the older farts ever will.
What’s more, there are countless academic incubators out there that can help make your business a success. There are even some where you’ll get a cash injection and if the business fails you don’t have to pay back a dime! Now if that’s not inviting, I don’t know what is.
So if you’ve got the next big technological innovation, then don’t wait to start that. Do what so many famous technologists do and start it from your college dorm room. There are few ideas better suited for each other than those.
Web design and development
So you don’t have the next big idea, but you do have a keen interest in the online world? Well then design and development are also great choices. After all, most universities are part of the backbone of the internet. That means that you’ve got great upload and download speeds right from your dorm room. That can make whatever you’re building that much faster to get up and running, without having to pay serious cash for a very serious connection.
Then, by the time you’re moving out and you have to pay for that kind of stuff, your business will be well established enough that you already can.
Make sure that you target your fellow students first. No, they won’t be able to pay that much, but they’ll forgive you a lot as you work through your learning curve. What’s more, their testimonials can be a great way to get more work down the line.
As another advantage, when you do get some big idea for an app or a service down the line, with this set of skills you’ll be in a much better position to actually develop them. So while you’re waiting for that big idea, you’re making sure that you’ve got the ability to execute it when it comes along.
And as Louis Pasteur said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
Another area where graduate students (and young people in general) have the upper hand over older folks is definitely fashion. Many of them care about it more and are more aware of the trends that are currently hot.
If that’s you, then why not get into the fashion business? Obviously, it helps if you actually know how to make clothes. It is even better if your university has facilities that you can use to produce your products.
But with a simple sowing machine and a desire to experiment you can get a long way. Then just offer your products online at Etsy or some places similar and you’re going strong. Of course, don’t forget your best market, which is the people around you. Your fellow students are the easiest to approach and the most likely to be interested in your product.
Then, when they go out across the country sporting your clothes, that gives you a good opportunity to get wider recognition. So make sure you market to them hard. A good trick is to offer them a good discount from being from the same school. And if you really want to get them to push your wares, offer them a portion of the profit for each product they sell.
Social media marketing and consulting
You can take this one two ways, really. You can either offer social media marketing and consulting for local businesses that could really use your help, or you could choose to find individuals and give them help.
In both cases, you can use your expertise with social media that you’ve spent most of your youth to develop to make a difference. Both are interesting, though obviously the marketing for companies is going to be easier as that’s more main stream.
Still, people might pay you good money if you can help them look that extra bit cool and happening. You could offer help to anybody that might need it – from artists trying to break through to people that need that bit of help looking slightly more stylish. Don’t be afraid to venture a little further afield, as people don’t just need help on the more ‘traditional’ social media but might also like you to give them a helping hand with such things as online dating services.
Enjoy racing around on your motor bike or in your car? Then why not create a startup to pick things up for people around campus who are less inclined to go racing around? You can pick up peoples coffees in the morning, their food from restaurants at later times and whatever else they will need as well.
Be sure to make a deal with restaurants so that they can prepare the food and you can then pick it up. They’ll love you for it, as they’ll be able to expand their business without having to bring in delivery services. Start with the word point and work your way down from there.
Then, as the business grows you can bring in extra people to whisk people around campus even while you’re going to class. Your bottom line will thank you for it and your student debt will be that much less.
Technological repairs and services
The worst thing that can happen to a student is to lose their laptop, tablet or phones. If you can help them recover those devices so that they don’t have to go buy a new one, you’re in a position to make a lot of money. Besides, if you’ve repaired one machine fort them, they’ll often call you back whenever they’ve got trouble with anything else as well. That’s a great way to quickly grow your market.
What’s more, you can offer your services as good for the environment, as you’re helping make sure that students can keep using their machines for that much longer before they have to buy a new one. So you can market yourself as environmentally friendly and thereby get those who care about that kind of thing on board as well.