Giving Entrepreneurship a Go

Entrepreneurship sounds like such a grand word. I always imagined entrepreneurs to be revolutionaries like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. They challenged norms and transformed the world around them in such a way that we couldn’t believe what life would be like without them and their ideas. And this for some, is inspiring, it makes them more ambitious and fuels them to work harder towards their goals. But for others, like myself, who want to solve problems but are unsure of the extent of the positive impact that they can have, it is also a bit daunting.

So as a first-year engineering student at university, interested in solving problems, but not knowing how, or which problems to solve, I participated a social innovation hackathon held by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Unleash Space. What attracted me to this programme was that it required no prior experience in hackathons or problem-solving, and you did not need to have a team or an idea before participating. The only prerequisite was to have a passion for getting good done, and everything else would be figured out during the 3-day programme.

I became a part of a team that aimed to reduce non-recyclable paper waste. Throughout the weekend, we received valuable mentorship that helped us through the process of problem decomposition, ideation and market validation. It was exciting to learn and implement this new approach to finding solutions, culminating in a pitch of these to a panel of judges. To say that this experience was exhilarating would be an understatement. Being in that dynamic environment of continually changing ideas, being surrounded by such passionate people, and having to put together a pitch in less than 2 hours, made me realise that this is the culture and community that I align with. And I didn’t know it then, but that was my first experience in entrepreneurship.

Since then, I have participated in similar programmes, and by getting a chance to talk to different entrepreneurs who are coming up with creative solutions to a wide range of problems, I’ve learnt that there’s no one way of being an entrepreneur. At the core of it, its about having the right mindset, one that identifies opportunities where others find problems, and that which is not only resilient in times of change but adapts to it willingly. This mindset develops gradually through experiences in entrepreneurship, and I think it is essential to allow oneself to have such experiences, irrespective of whether we plan on heading a start-up or not. To this day, I am glad I didn’t let my nerves get the better of me before attending my first entrepreneurship programme.      

So here are a few reasons why you should give entrepreneurship a go at least once during your time at university:

  1. You learn so much about the world around you

Hearing from passionate change-makers about their ventures and their purpose gives you a new perspective when looking at things, and you learn of problems that you never thought existed. You learn of the different technologies and different approaches that are being used to solve these problems.   

 

  1. You learn so much about yourself

Being a university student, we’re at an age where we are trying to find our place and figure out the qualities and skills we possess. Working with a diverse team of people helps you realise your true role, and the things you’re good at, and working with them on a business idea enables you to understand what you are genuinely passionate about.   

 

  1. You meet so many amazing people

The people I have met through these experiences have easily been the highlight for me. Some of the energy rubs off on you when you’re around such inspiring people, and it inspires you to do your best and think beyond just assignments and grades. Being a part of this community means that people are always willing to help you out, and sometimes through these experiences, you find not only teammates but friends.

 

  1. The University of Auckland has numerous resources to help you out

Whether you are a start-up veteran or taking the first steps in your entrepreneurial journey, the university has many resources to help you out. The Start-up Studio at the Unleash Space gives you an area to work on your idea and helps you get in touch with mentors, while the Create and Maker space is where you can prototype your product idea with guidance from a team of Creative Technicians.

 

  1. If you don’t try it, you’ll never know

I never liked mushrooms because they looked gross, but I once saw my sister enjoying eating them, and I decided to try it, and my life had been forever changed at that moment. Just like this apt analogy, if you don’t give it a shot, you will never know what you would have been capable of creating and solving.

 

To start your journey, there are multiple programmes held by the CIE throughout the year, such as the Velocity $100K Challenge and Summer Lab. There is also one happening during the inter-semester break Innovate2Business that you should sign up for now! All of these aim to develop ideas into businesses, thus helping you develop the entrepreneurial mindset.   

By Divya Roshin