Why You Should Launch Your Startup at a University
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the contributors are theirs.
Time is inexorable. Impregnating everything, it draws our world into the whirlwind of its movement. It seemed like only yesterday the first-year students started their studies, and now they are facing the final stage of their thesis defense, and the door to the new world is opening.
The degree of comfort and predictability of this world depends not only on the level of knowledge, but also on their ability to apply it. Other components like character, intelligence and circumstances also play an important role in shaping the trajectory of their professional life.
For this reason, graduates are eager to start their own business or link up with startups they feel connected to. Last year, Stanford University-linked startups raised $76.7 billion in venture capital investments. Additionally, there is a new movement for companies to start closing the skills gap by training their employees in-house.
Startups can take advantage of both of these situations by partnering with a strong university and launching alongside the college. There are many benefits to developing a relationship with a well-established university, but these five reasons relate to more growth, innovation, long-term success, and overall profitability.
1. Students are ready to learn and share their experiences
The talent shortage is a problem that all companies face. Every company needs more people who match its values and are open to new experiences. When you recruit at a university, you are looking for a pool of bright, ambitious, talented and open-minded young people that their institution has already selected. These employees tend to stay much longer and they already have a strong understanding of the company’s values and culture. This combination means a happier team that is happy to stick around for the long haul.
University students have an open mind and a willingness to share their knowledge that makes them valuable employees. Today’s student becomes tomorrow’s star employee who, in turn, returns to college to bring your brand values to a new generation. This knowledge transfer cycle is a great mechanism for developing mentorship skills in your team.
In my experience, all of the top students who quickly rose from junior to management positions were always the most eager to pass on their knowledge. They are the most passionate and motivated to organize courses and corporate events at the university.
Companies that seek out super talent and immediately set them up for success are a prime example. Career advancement rates and employee value are breaking records.
Related: An Exciting Time To Be A Student Entrepreneur
2. Education is an ideal environment for your brand
Associating your brand with education and progress is always beneficial from a public relations perspective. Companies that show a willingness to teach and invest in future generations earn great respect from outside observers.
Hosting master classes, one-to-one lectures, workshops, and other events at the university will always generate a lot of positive media attention, so it’s a great social impact investment. In addition, the time dedicated to the transfer of knowledge and experience (intangible that cannot be bought) is an invaluable investment.
In addition, it is very profitable. Cultivating student value is perfectly in line with lean methodologies, since the value you get from students costs next to nothing. The existing academic structure is also an ideal testing ground for hypothesis testing or castdev with minimal resource investment from your company.
3. Investing in education contributes to your social mission
In today’s world, we either work for pay or we work to change the world. In my experience, most companies are now driven by the latter reason. Money is no longer enough for most workers, especially the younger generations.
But the world is changing anyway, regardless of our will or participation. If we don’t change the world for the better, someone else changes it in a direction that may very well not be very comfortable for us, for our present and our future. Most working people, especially the younger generation, almost never have enough money. Studying and participating in the company’s promising activities will increase the employee’s rating and performance.
The most successful companies are able to help both the individual and the whole team feel connected to a higher purpose, such as teaching and developing future generations and thus the development of the long-term business.
There are several effective ways to invest in education, such as:
Grants for student projects
Courses that give the best students access to paid internships
Participation in academic competitions
It should also be noted that strong universities attract other companies which may become potential partners or customers. Getting involved in university networking is helpful in developing new collaborative relationships.
Related: Five Reasons to Give New Grads a Chance in Your Business
4. It strengthens the internal culture of the company
Welcoming new team members who have been trained through the courses organized by the company means that the values and the mission of the brand will already inspire these people. Since these young people are likely to be our future managers, team leaders and top analysts, it is ideal that they already feel motivated and inspired by the company culture.
These students are brand ambassadors. I call them the “skeleton” of an organization because they are the foundation of the business and what holds it together. When students can take business courses in college or get involved in corporate projects and events, the startup can see how well someone will fit into the corporate culture.
Practice-oriented learning formats (e.g. project-based learning, flipped classrooms) are an ideal testing ground to discover a candidate’s full potential in all aspects. This is something companies cannot find through interviews and questionnaires.
Related: 4 Ways to Test “Cultural Fit” During the Hiring Process
5. Students bring a non-standard approach to new ideas
When you don’t have a lot of experience in a subject, you don’t have the constraints, rules, and limits that are often forced upon the minds of people who are considered experts. Thus, students often have the most open and innovative ideas. As part of our Future Talents program, a student came up with the idea of reverse recruitment, and this is how the startup TalentService was born.
Some of the biggest names in tech all started their careers relatively young:
Other tech giants like Twitter, TaskRabbit, Microsoft, and Snapchat were all founded by college-aged innovators who wanted to change the world. The bottom line for companies here is that establishing a collaborative relationship with a strong university lays the foundation for generating powerful new ideas from younger generations.
One last tip: Remember to consider the weaknesses of the student model. It’s important to be objective about this format, so your business can be prepared for any inconveniences that may arise.
Burnout is a serious risk that must be taken into account. Students are more likely to burn out quickly because they have passion but not much real-world experience. Mentoring these students can also put a strain on your more experienced staff members. Be aware that you are increasing their responsibilities and workload with mentoring assignments.
Finally, not everyone is a good candidate for mentoring. Remember that not everyone has a solid understanding of the appropriate frameworks, responsibilities, and methodologies associated with professional work. Be sure to choose carefully.
Cultivating a student population that is curious, innovative and motivated to change the world is the best investment a startup can make. When businesses can come in, impart knowledge, discuss successes and failures, and nurture ambitious students, the world will perk up and pay attention.