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Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Leave College!

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by The Scarlet Pimp, May 3, 2010.

  1. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Drop Out Of College!

    Fred Wilson and I, on the way back from an Etsy board meeting, were talking about how many entrepreneurs had dropped out of college.

    Rob Kalin, Etsy's founder, never finished college. Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey -- the founders of Twitter -- are not college graduates.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, is another dropout. And of course
    Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

    As an angel investor, I've invested in two college dropout founders this month. What gives?

    College works on the factory model, and is in many ways not suited to training entrepreneurs. You put in a student and out comes a scholar.

    Entrepreneurship works on the apprenticeship model. The best way to learn how to be an entrepreneur is to start a company, and seek the advice of a successful entrepreneur in the area in which you are interested.

    Or work at a startup for a few years to learn the ropes. A small number of people -- maybe in the high hundreds or low thousands -- have the knowledge of how to start and run a tech company, and things change so fast, only people in the thick of things have a sense of what is going on.

    Take a few years off and you're behind the times. Some publishers have asked Chris to collate his blog posts on entrepreneurship into a book, but he said, What's the point, it'd be out of date by the time it hit the bookstores.

    As Fred pointed out, the basic skills necessary to start a tech company -- design or coding -- are skills that can be learned outside of the academy, and are often self-taught.

    Industry knowledge can only be picked up by observing other startups and using their products, talking to other entrepreneurs, watching their presentations, attending conferences where they are speaking, and most importantly, building stuff yourself, and learning from peers who are doing it better than you are.

    Now that there are so many blogs, and so many entrepreneurs willing to share their experience and knowledge, it's a lot more accessible. You can even ask direct questions to people like Kevin Rose or me on www.formspring.com

    I spent many years in college studying English literature. I was on the verge of attending grad school to get a Ph.D. in Renaissance poetry - my lost careers were being a writer, artist or academic.

    Do I regret spending all that time poring over Shakespeare when I could have been getting a jump start on the competition? Not at all. There's no money in poetry, but then again, there's no poetry in money either.

    Caterina Fake is the cofounder of Hunch and Flickr.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/caterina-fake-want-to-be-an-entrepreneur-drop-out-of-college-2010-4
     
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  2. andre09

    andre09 Junior Member

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    TSP, do you think the majority of the founders and co-founders of popular sites like Twitter were all coders? Because it seems that the majority of IMers don't know coding heavily, but rather outsource it. Do you think it would be realistic to try to found a new site like FaceBook without being the main coder behind it?
     
  3. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    personally, i wouldn't try to make something like facebook without knowing php, perl, etc. otherwise you are subject to a coder's whim and his talent.

    and his prices! :eek:
     
  4. thesilent

    thesilent Supreme Member

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    Steve jobs is the co founder of apple and he was not the technologist behind it. He had another steve for it.

    Bluelithium was founded by a non coder and so on.
     
  5. ericsson

    ericsson Elite Member Premium Member

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    This is the founder of Z 1 Computer.

    Konrad Zuse.
    Impressive computer huh?

    [​IMG]

    What you see is the computers clock frequence.
     
  6. kumansk

    kumansk Regular Member

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    id be happy to finish high school not even thinking about college like you nerds :D
     
  7. Weberster

    Weberster BANNED BANNED

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    It's not mutually exclusive IMHO. You can be successful and be a dropout or a graduate, it doesn't matter as long as you've got what it takes and you're focused on making your enterprises a success.
     
  8. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    very true. it's more a matter of which courses you study. many people take fluffy courses and then wonder why they can't get a good job.
     
  9. Megalomaniac Midget

    Megalomaniac Midget Power Member Premium Member

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    Dropping out of college? Fuck that, i was years ahead of them....i dropped out of high school :D
     
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  10. GuiYoM

    GuiYoM Newbie

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    I always thought that ''D'' student makes the best entrepreneur, because they didn't succed at a model that was dictated by the whole society we live in.
     
  11. Zooker

    Zooker Newbie

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    you know, i actually consider this question on a regular basis.

    background: i've been on computers since i was 5, and i was engineering well before i got my BS in software engineering. college was really to add more skills, rather than turn me into an engineer.

    now, many people seem to get degrees to make a good living, and once outside those 8 hours a day, they do what they want. it's their time they put in, and for many not any real passion even.

    for me, i knew from what i had seen of family members and friends, that you can work you way up in a company, make a good living, etc. but, if that company went out of business, that kinda thing, then you have to start again back at the bottom somewhere else. having a useful degree tends to at least establish a minimum.

    now, at least where i'm at now, i may be the exception because i realize that you do establish a life, but you never really get ahead and have real freedom working for someone else. security, yes. freedom no. think Office Space.

    i actually really enjoy engineering, and have built a number of sweet software products and sites ( i won't mention any here as i'm not trying to link drop or anything), and i even developed a far better design than facebook(is that really that hard?) with around 5000 lines of code done already.

    well, i started going off on a slight tangent, but what i'm trying to say is there seems to be 2 different types of people. those who are their job (that is a major part of their identity), and those who work to live and have their own independent thoughts and ambitions. it seems to be a mix of ability, and more importantly, drive and ambition.
     
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    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  12. inumel

    inumel Senior Member

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    its not so much the educational aspect which people should focus on but actually people need to become financially literate. Becoming financially literate is the real secret to success whether you decided to go to college or not. I think a great book for everyone to read is Rich dad poor dad. It gives insight on becoming financially literate which IMO >>> education.
     
  13. thesilent

    thesilent Supreme Member

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    A Millionaire with loads of contacts. People say college gets you contacts. Don't you think there are other ways to get the same.

    Tell me how many times you felt that your professor is completely wrong and you were unable to make your point?

    If you are going to be an entrepreneur I believe an MBA is not necessary.


    Based on research its found that a guys brain will be at its peak at the age of 22. Do you want to learn or apply at that stage?

    You cannot do everything all at once. If you are going to college and doing marketing for 4-6 hours you will be able to market 16 hours when you are not going to college.
     
  14. kumansk

    kumansk Regular Member

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    man nothing will teach you shit unless you do it yourself, your own errors. you get taught and connect with other people in the industry, theres nothing useful in knowledge unless you use it.
     
  15. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    i suspect that getting a college education is akin to buying those cheap time-life "home improvement" books that we are used to seeing advertised on late night tv.

    i.e., you'll get a bit of info, but you won't know how to apply it in the real world.

    reading a dozen cook books doesn't make you a chef, and getting a degree doesn't mean you've actually learned anything useful. the trick is in knowing how to apply
    the knowledge you've gained, and that's where many schools fall flat.

    knowing the sequence of fibonacci numbers is useless if you can't apply it to something.
     
  16. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    --- Original Message ---
    From: "J.F. (Jim) Straw" <jfstraw@businesslyceum.com>
    To: undisclosed-recipients
    Date: Mon, 03 May 2010
    Subject: Business Lyceum e-Letter (May 2010)

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Practical Instruction in the Arts and Sciences of Making Money
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Editor/Publisher: J.F. (Jim) Straw
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    MAY 2010

    Greetings & Salutations:

    Believe it or don't, I just flunked another test for "entrepreneurial"
    traits!

    From my test score, it appears I am probably better adapted to washing
    dishes than running a business. Then again, according to the governing
    laws of aerodynamics, Bumble Bees can't fly either.

    Let me tell you a TRUE STORY about those tests. -- You've seen them.
    They usually have a headline like ...

    Do You Have What It Takes To Become An Entrepreneur?

    Back in 1977, an old millionaire friend of mine ... in his late 70s ...
    sent me a 20-question test with a personal note asking me to answer the
    questions and return them to him.

    He said he was conducting an experiment and wanted honest answers ... no fudging allowed ... to all of the questions. So, I answered the questions and returned them to him.

    A couple months later, the old millionaire sent me a letter detailing
    his experiment and reporting the results.

    The "test" he had sent to me had been published in a big-name,
    prestigious business magazine, with a self-scoring answer-sheet at the
    end of the article. -- It was the "work" of a world-renowned psychologist.

    After he had taken the "test" in the magazine, my old friend was
    disappointed to learn that he didn't have what it took to be an
    entrepreneur.

    As a matter of fact ... even though he had been a real
    entrepreneur all his life with millions of real dollars in the bank to
    prove it ... his "test" results indicated that he should have been a
    40-hour-per-week wage-slave and put all his money in safe and secure
    bank deposit accounts.

    Having failed the "test" ... miserably ... he decided to send a copy of
    the "test" to 35 real entrepreneurs he knew, just to see if he was some
    kind of psychological freak.

    Maybe he was just a Bumble Bee, flying with the F-14 fighters.

    All 35 of the real entrepreneurs ... including me ... who received the
    "test" from him were self-made millionaires ... no inheritors or lottery
    winners.

    Their educational backgrounds ranged from elementary school
    dropouts to a few with doctorates ... ranging in age from their mid-20s
    to late-80s.

    Guess what? -- According to the "test" ... not one of us had what it
    took to be an entrepreneur. We all failed the "test."

    The old millionaire sent the fully-documented results of his experiment
    to the world-renowned psychologist who had created the "test." To which
    the learned psychologist responded, "The traits indicated in the test
    are necessary to becoming an entrepreneur but they are not required to
    be an entrepreneur."

    In other words ...

    If you pass the "test," you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur - but - you can't be one.

    So ... why did I tell that story?

    Well, I'll tell ya. -- After taking and flunking a number of those
    tests, I, myself, got to wondering ...

    What Does It Really Take To Be An Entrepreneur?

    Since I couldn't find an answer in my own experience, I started asking
    each and every successful entrepreneur I met, "What motivated you to
    start and succeed in your own business?"

    As you can imagine, the answers I received ranged from the ridiculous to
    the sublime ... from mystical hocus-pocus to ultra-logical reasoning ...
    from irrational psycho-babble to textbook business plans.

    Then, a few years ago, a young millionaire ... in his early 30s ...
    solved the riddle for me. He looked me straight in the eyes and said ...

    "I don't really know. One day, I decided to do it and just did it!"

    So ... all it takes to be an entrepreneur is a decision to be one. --
    Once the decision is made, you will do it!

    The decision is yours and yours alone!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
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  17. Moto801

    Moto801 Senior Member

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    A formal education can make you a living; a self education can make you a fortune.
     
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  18. DebtFreeMe

    DebtFreeMe Regular Member

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    I am currently in the process of doing both. I am learning to become an Internet entrepreneur thanks to BHW and others resources, and I am getting my degree.

    This is because I work with people that have their degrees and are automatically earning almost twice what I am, even though I and others like me and doing most of the actual work...

    I am already thinking about getting an economics degree because I find money and the way it moves throw society very interesting, but at the same time I am still earning income from sites that I set up over 2 years ago, with very little input...

    So I think the reality is that it is not a question of what is better overall, but what is better for you...

    If you are OK with risk and don't mind failing many times before you succeed than go full force with your own ideas. If you would rather someone else accept the risks, than get your degree, have a fall back, and then go full force with your ideas.

    neither idea is the wrong way to go, just know that as you grow through life your idea on which way to go will change, so also don't be scared to change your mind.
     
  19. Zooker

    Zooker Newbie

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    exactly what i was getting ready to say. i kinda look at my degree as my safety net while i'm balancing on the IM side. it's kinda like the football star that picks up a degree on the way to trying to make it into the NFL. if he doesn't make it for some reason, at least he has a degree to fall back on. that, and here and there you can pick up a few nice pointers in college.

    i have a friend that got his degree, and worked for a company for less than a year before going off on his own. today he is doing great, but if things were to start going downhill, he could always go work for someone else for a bit.

    myself, i work for a company during the day because i have a family to provide for. on the side, i am striving to achieve something on my own and maybe one day i won't be dependent on a company for my financial well-being. guess i'm a bit on the low-risk side myself.
     
  20. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Only Five Texas Colleges (out of 32) Have Graduation Rates Above 50%

    Texas has long championed an effort to increase state college enrollment rates. But data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics reveals that there may be a lack of follow-through once students are on campus: out of the state's 32 universities, a mere five graduate more than half their attendees.

    The Texas Tribune reports:

    The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have the highest graduation rates: Both graduate 78 percent of their students in six years or less, but that's still a step behind national peers like the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, which graduate 90 percent and 88 percent, respectively.

    At the bottom of the Texas list is Texas Southern University, which graduates just 12 percent of students in six years, followed by the University of Houston-Downtown and the University of Texas at Brownsville, each at 16 percent.

    Texas officials are debating how to best approach the issue. State Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes wants to make it so schools only receive state funds for successful students.

    But House Public Education Committee Vice-Chairman and State Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, disagrees with Paredes's plan and is meeting with university officials to chart a course of action.

    For now, Hochberg and fellow state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, both back improving on-campus advising and support so students are less likely to fall through the cracks.

    The Tribune points out that the state launched a campaign in 2000 called "Closing the Gaps by 2015" in effort to bring the state to par with national graduation rates (which is about 60 percent).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/11/five-texas-colleges-have_n_571719.html