Key Success Factors for Every Student Entrepreneur

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Student Entrepreneurship – Leverage Every Opportunity!

With the start of another academic school year fast approaching, you may be wondering how your post-secondary education will lead you to success. In reality, nothing will lead you to success but yourself. In 2014, the term “entrepreneurship” is no longer a stigma, it is a growing trend. In fact, entrepreneurs today are becoming increasingly younger in age and there are more female entrepreneurs today than ever before. If you are contemplating how to make the most out of your education, and perhaps you have a dream to be your own boss one day; this article will provide some important tips to mesh the worlds of academia and entrepreneurship.

According to the Mashable article by Nellie Akalp, CEO of, “7 Tips for Balancing College with Your Startup Dreams” key success factors for getting the most out of your education while achieving your startup dreams are as follows:

Take advantage of university and college resources

There won’t be another time in your life when you have so many academic, technical, and advisory resources right at your fingertips. A professor can be an invaluable mentor. Depending on the target demographic of your product, fellow classmates represent the perfect beta pool. And there are numerous entrepreneurial competitions and conferences geared toward students which will give you a unique opportunity to find mentors, funding, and publicity for your idea.

Find the right partners

It might be fun to start a business with your friend, but fun doesn’t necessarily equate to value – make sure any partner you choose is a strategic one. Look for partners who can bring something to the table whether it be through expertise, connections, capital or other resources. The key is that any partner you choose should be bringing value in to the organization.

Set aside time to work on the business

Your classes, exams, and other coursework are scheduled for you, but making time for your business requires discipline. Ideally you’ll want to pick a day or two per week where you and other members of the team all work together in the same room. Many find it easier to juggle this time commitment when taking classes that meet once per week for a few hours.

Don’t view your studies and startup as mutually exclusive.

Consider the types of coursework that could help you run your business. For example, if you’re studying engineering, take a few economics and marketing classes. You don’t need to become an expert in every field, but exposure to these topics will give you a broader understanding of what’s needed in the business world.

Set targets

What will it take for you and your other co-founders to leave school and dive in full-time to the startup? 10,000 active users? $500 million in revenue? Seed funding? It’s good to talk about these issues ahead of time so everyone understands and buys into the game plan. If you and your co-founder aren’t on the same page, it’s better to discover those differences early on.

Don’t be afraid to fail

No matter what type of startup you choose to launch, keep in mind that most people’s first business ventures don’t succeed. Many fail miserably, but that hardly makes you a failure. School is one of the best times to give things a try; it becomes harder to take risks when you have a mortgage and family to consider. With every attempt, you’ll gain valuable experience and insight into what works and what doesn’t. In fact, a failed startup could be your best teacher during your school years.

To read Nellie’s full article, please visit:

University of Windsor’s Entrepreneurial Practice & Innovation Centre

With this in mind, for many of you will be either returning or just starting out at the University of Windsor, the new Entrepreneurial Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre) offers invaluable opportunities for student entrepreneurs. Some of EPICentre’s opportunities include:

Entrepreneurship Courses across campus. The EPICentre (EPIC) goes into different courses to talk about, and deliver entrepreneurship lectures. They also offer joint business/engineering classes, as well as business/computer sciences classes (second year for both) where students partner up and start interdisciplinary businesses. These courses are intended to teach students the fundamentals about entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial Activities. EPIC offer events that allow students to take part in entrepreneurial activities, such as Startup Weekend, guest speakers and various workshops geared towards entrepreneurship. These activities are intended for students who are interested in the concept of entrepreneurship and want to know more.

Business Development Opportunities. These opportunities are for students who may have a business idea, but need help forming their idea or plan. These consist of FREE business and legal consulting, as well as 1-on-1 consulting with experts in various fields of business, law, computer science, entrepreneurship and others.

Competitions. EPIC offers an annual Blue Sky Competition, allowing students the opportunity to create interdisciplinary teams and develop a video pitch of a business idea, in order to win money and a trip. They also send students to external entrepreneurship competitions.

Mentorship Program. EPIC offers up to $5000 and a mentorship over the course of 4 months for students and recent graduates under the age of 30 to start and grow their business.

Incubation Space. EPIC also offers incubation space on campus for students and recent graduates.

To learn more about the University of Windsor’s EPICentre, please contact:

Nicole Anderson (Sleiman), MBA
Instructor & Program Director
Entrepreneurship Practice & Innovation Centre
Odette School of Business, Room 118
University of Windsor
519-253-3000 Ext. 4913

MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 Lectures

For those of you who have dreams of career and financial independence, or for those who simply have a brilliant idea but do not necessarily have an expertise in entrepreneurship, MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 is for you! If you are interested, but not quite ready to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, the Entrepreneurship 101 weekly lectures which are offered through live webcasts will take you through all the steps to start your own technology or social purpose business from start to finish. With weekly lectures held every Wednesday from 6-7 p.m. starting on September 24th, 2014; you will learn about topics including:

  • Finding and validating your idea
  • Different types of entrepreneurship
  • Introduction to entrepreneurial management
  • Customer discovery and market intelligence
  • Value proposition
  • Product development
  • IP management
  • Business model canvas
  • Business Plan and Other Communication Tools
  • Marketing Communications and B2C Sales
  • Networking
  • Sales
  • Negotiations
  • Contract Manufacturing
  • Selecting Your First Board of Advisors
  • Financial Planning
  • Recruiting and Building a Foundation Team
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership: Building and Managing a Team
  • Bootstrapping and Alternate Sources of Funding
  • Crowdfunding and Equity Crowdfunding
  • Raising Money from Venture Capitalists (VC)
  • 360 Panel on VC Funding
  • The Pitch… and Much More!

With MaRS Entrepreneurship 101, you will learn all the necessary tools to become a successful entrepreneur and decide if starting your own venture is right for you. For more information about MaRS Entrepreneurship 101, please contact Ashlyn Bird, Client and Program Facilitator via email to or by phone at (519) 997-2858. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or check out our website for news and updates on MaRS Entrepreneurship 101.