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4 Reasons Why Student Entrepreneurs Are Primed for Success

Once upon a time, entrepreneurship was a little discussed topic in America. Here's why the past is fortunately in the past.
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Entrepreneurship in America is having a moment.

A little more than 25 years ago, I was a freshman at Williams College, a small liberal arts college smack in the middle of the Berkshire Mountains. It was and is a great place to study, but in those days no one spoke about "skills" or a "career" until maybe the last weeks of one's senior year. But there was actually one word I never once heard spoken in my four years there: entrepreneurship. Looking back, I feel no sense of resentment--just a sense of lost opportunities and wasted talent and time.


If you would like a visceral sense of why we never heard the word entrepreneurship, just have a look at the photo above of the old faculty at Williams. Imagine walking up to one of these guys in their elegant suits, perhaps the one with the white dog, and asking him for advice on starting a company. It would be like asking him if he could teach you to rob a bank. I say as much in my Ted talk below on this very subject.

In fact, before continuing, have a look at this quick video, below. It will give you a sense of what I think the potential is for university students today. In short, it's literally the opportunity of a lifetime.

As I've said many times over the past four years, entrepreneurs are in the greatest position in the history of the world to launch new ventures. Here are the key reasons why:

1. The cost of starting a new business has plummeted due to remarkable technological developments in the areas of bandwidth, cloud computing, and open-source software.


2. Investors are literally lining up to discover the next generation of great young entrepreneurs.


3. Many universities are now providing real support to their student entrepreneurs by way of a multitude of programs--from classes and workshops to incubators and accelerators.


4. There are tons of contests, competitions, and organizations targeted to student entrepreneurs at your disposal now.

The last and perhaps most important point I would like to make to support my belief that starting up as a young person today is literally the opportunity of a lifetime is that the cost of trying and failing at this juncture in life is literally zero.

And in exchange, you're basically guaranteed to learn a lot about startup culture, meet a ton of people in the entrepreneurial community and become even more formidable if at first you don't succeed.

Last updated: Feb 24, 2014

DAVE LERNER | Columnist

Dave Lerner is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, blogger and host of Venture Studio, where he engages with entrepreneurs, investors, founders and other members of New York's flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem and beyond. One of his latest projects is the Startup Genome, funded by the Kauffman Foundation and Endeavor Global, where he is mapping the entire world?s early-stage investment and entrepreneurial ecosystems in a visually pleasing user-friendly format. He also serves as the Director of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University, as well as adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School. He is on the board of New York Tech Meetup and was director of Columbia?s Venture Lab for seven years where he spun-out 70+ technology start-ups based on university research.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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