Editor’s Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.
While starting up a business from an ivory tower is never a good idea, an e-tower, however, well that’s another story.
When I co-launched Jacox-Hilton, a Peterborough, Ontario-based company that offers life insurance policy analysis software called lifeAssist, my business partners and I were living in an entrepreneurship community on campus called e-tower. There we would stay up through the night to iron out the latest great idea, Skyping with developers in India or negotiating with suppliers in Asia were all commonplace.
While in college, my business partner Cameron Jacox and I built a business that was operating in three countries before the beginning of my senior year. When we first got started, there were two of us living in a dorm with an interesting idea of how to use technology to better service life-insurance policyholders. As we ironed out our idea and shifted to actually developing and operating, we quickly needed more resources than were available on or close to campus.
Through e-tower, we met our third partner, Karan Kanodia, who is from India and has a background in technology development. He introduced us to a reputable software development group in India, which turned out to not only be more affordable but fit nicely into our unusual college schedule. All of our classes were held during the day, meaning that our most productive hours for working on business were in the evening — right at the beginning of the workday in India. Any work that got started in the evening was usually completed by the time we woke up. We were essentially running a 24-hour company.
Related: How to Start Up from Your Dorm Room
Launching a new enterprise is challenging on its own, never mind doing it while you’re still in college — faced with a mountain of distractions and time commitments. You don’t have to stay up every night to be successful, but you do have to be tactical in the way you approach your work.
Here are three tips to take your college startup global:
1. Join or start an entrepreneurial community. Entrepreneurship can be and should be a competitive sport. Most of us entrepreneurs are ruthlessly competitive, and love building and leading teams. In e-tower, I surrounded myself with other like-minded hardworking entrepreneurs. It helped me stay focused and motivated while working on my business. If you have a community like this on campus, join it. If not, be entrepreneurial and start one. You won’t regret it.
2. Get creative with your schedule. When you’re a student, your schedule can be pretty demanding, of course. But do try to build a team that you can work with at times that work well for you. When we hired the developers in India, we knew we could focus on them during the evening, but concentrate on school during the day. It doesn’t matter when you’re getting things done, it just matters that you are.
Related: 3 Tips to a Speedy Launch
3. Network with international students. Nearly 30 percent of the students at my college were from other countries, but it seemed that most people formed cliques and didn’t end up mixing much. I can’t think of a better opportunity than college to be exposed to a variety of cultures and build strong international relationships early on. Take a risk, meet someone you wouldn’t otherwise meet, and take some time to learn about their culture.
Do you have any tips for building an international business while in school? Leave a comment and let us know.