Last night I went to bed at 3am, and was up at 7am for a meeting with a professor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t up so late binge-watching Making a Murderer (I wish). I was finishing up a presentation for the next day, and wrapping up the designs for the explainer screens of the springpop app.
This balance between work and school is hard. Why? Because there is no balance. I was watching Shark Tank the other day, and Robert said something like, “If you’re looking for a balance, don’t start a business.” I’ve found that to be true. Springpop has become my procrastination, my obsession, my job, my obligation, my homework, my day off, and my inspiration. It’s not just a part of my life, it is my life. The great thing about starting a business based on something you’re passionate about is that even though this might seem terrible, it isn’t. Just like the saying goes, if you love doing something it doesn’t seem like work.
I’ve seen a lot of people start businesses just to have a startup. If you’re going into it with the attitude, I don’t know what I’m going to make, but Snapchat’s worth billions of dollars and I can do that too, then I think it’ll be a really long and depressing road for you. The truth is, you have to believe 100% in your business. You have to be its cheerleader. You have to be the mom that makes sure it does its homework. The thing that keeps me smiling every time I log into springpop’s website is the fact that I know I would be okay if millions of people don’t download the app once it launches. The experience you get starting a business is too valuable. Personally, I’ve gotten more confident, less scared, and stronger because of springpop. I used to get nervous every time I had a call with a VC, or a brand, or potential partners. I would literally type up talking points just in case I froze, so that I could read my pitch straight off of my computer. Now, I’m perfectly comfortable taking a Skype call with whoever I’m working with. Part of the reason for this is that I now realize that our most important resource is time. The time I spend getting nervous about a call is time I’m not spending on my business.
I mentioned earlier that I had a meeting this morning with a professor. The professor in question teaches entrepreneurship at Wharton, and has been one of my biggest supporters. The first time I met him was two years ago, when I was a freshman and I first had the idea for springpop. The idea I told him about back then was vastly different from what springpop looks like now (it wasn’t even called springpop), but the core value proposition was the same. I knew what kind of place I wanted to create. He told me a couple of harsh realities about starting a business that I (admittedly) wrote off at first. It all seems so easy until you actually start trying to get your first 1,000 users. However, two years later, I now know everything he said was completely right, and still relevant to what I’m doing now. I’ll share those golden tips in a later post.
To sum it up, starting a business in college is hard, but not impossible. You just have to be ready to sacrifice. A lot. Sacrifice your Friday nights, your time with friends, and sleeping in on the days you don’t have early class. The good part is that college offers entrepreneurs a lot of advantages. Some of my best connections and resources have come from professors at Penn. The bottom line is, I wouldn’t recommend having a startup in college unless you’re prepared to add more stress and turmoil to your already crazy, dramatic, and course-heavy life. You (and I) are probably better off binge-watching Making a Murderer anyway.
With all of that said, springpop has been one of the best things in my life. If you have an idea you can’t stop thinking about, then go for it. Always go for it.