This is part of my Series on University Entrepreneurship.
In the previous posts in this Series we established the mindset and awareness required as well as the immersion you need to initiate in your local startup ecosystem, what you need to do to acquire subject matter expertise, how to develop a social media presence the importance of finding a mentor, and how to cultivate lasting ties with investors, all with the objective of greatly increasing your chances of success as an entrepreneur.
In this installment, I'm going to highlight the fact that among the many awesome advantages you have as a student entrepreneur, (your sheer youth, the spare time you have, your .edu address, the willingness of most people to help you, your freedom to operate, etc.) is the fact that you can apply for a staggering array of competitions and grants geared specifically to student entrepreneurs like yourself!
The opportunity is so remarkable I thought it deserved its own special category in this Series as I see it as separate and apart from raising capital & investors. You see- what we're talking about in this post is non-dilutive capital! Another more colloquial term for it is of course, "Free Money"!
Over the years I've seen the student entrepreneurs with the most hustle consistently figure out ways to enter into a plethora of competitions and apply for student grants while they are still in school. Oftentimes the money and in-kind services they receive for winning such competitions and grants are actually the critical funding they needed to achieve proof-of-concept or product-market fit for their businesses. It would have been very tough for them to raise angel or VC money at the stages they were in, but that $25k or $50k they won made all the difference. In fact, a number of great businesses got their start this way, including mammoth venture-backed companies like Comixology, LearnVest, Warby Parker and Pinterest.
So do not hesitate to avail yourself of the myriad of resources, competitions and ignition grants available at your university and beyond.
In the meantime, I wish you lots of luck- hope you pull down some wins here. Go out and get-em!