Vitrix Health, Optivolt Labs, Amber Agriculture, Orange QC, and Cast21--these are just a few of the 942 startups founded in the past five years by students and faculty across Illinois Universities, according to the University Innovation Index by Illinois Science & Technology Coalition.
If you want your startup to join the long list of ventures founded on campus, quit procrastinating and take the entrepreneurship plunge. Here are five reasons why we think college is the best time to launch the next great startup:
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fosters an exceptionally vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. You save significantly on the cost of launching a company, so utilize every resource at your disposal in and outside the campus.
You have access to unlimited resources such as dedicated innovation workspaces like EnterpriseWorks, Grainger IDEA Lab, Illinois Maker Lab; Accelerators such as iVenture Accelerator (offered by Origin Ventures Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership) I-Start (offered by Research Park); Funds in the form of prize money such as the Cozad New Venture Challenge, Illinois Innovation Prize; Workshops and Initiatives such as Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Workshop, Think Chicago, City Scholars or Startup City Scholars; Registered Student Organizations like Founders, Enactus, and Entrecorps; and the Office of Technology Management for technology and business commercialization support.
Unlimited Networking & Mentorship Opportunities
Innumerable professors and faculty with relevant industry experience, mentors, thought leaders, students from diverse backgrounds, and entrepreneurs in residence are more than willing to learn about your idea. They will offer feedback, guide you through the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and connect you with resources that can help get your idea off the ground. Reach out to as many people you can! Their free feedback is invaluable.
Practice What You Learn
There is no better way to put your classroom learning into action than launching a startup. You not only learn the dynamics of entrepreneurship theoretically but also experience what it takes to start a company. You get to equip yourself with skills such as how to interact with your customers, market your product, manage finance, raise funds, ask for guidance, build a professional support network, persevere in the face of instability, and manage the team. If founding a business isn’t the right path for you, the skills acquired will not only give you an edge now, but in your future workplace.
Launching a startup while you're in school gives you a head start, and is often easier because you have more flexibility. Despite juggling the demands of college life, you are likely to have a more flexible schedule than when you graduate.
It’s Ok to Fail
What are you waiting for? Now is the right time to launch your startup.