Janet Zhou filled the room at the first Startup UCLA event last Thursday evening. More than 100 members of the UCLA community attended, and most stayed well past the official ending time. Janet started her talk with this point: it used to be that when you graduated college you could either get a job or go to graduate school. Now there is another option: start your own venture. Based on her own experiences, Janet discussed four lessons she has learned – ones we all would be well advised to attend to.
Lesson 1: Choose your partners carefully. Who you work with is much more important than your business idea, according to Janet.
Lesson 2: Learn to fail. Being able to recognize the shortcomings of your own idea, and then quickly revise and improve it, is critical for success.
Lesson 3: Take advantage of “the golden years.” Many of the most successful startup teams (think Larry and Sergei) met as students. Being a student not only gives you access to an incredible talent pool, but also gives you license to do things – and approach people – you cannot do as easily once you are older.
Lesson 4: Learn to tell a good story. Getting your idea off the ground will depend to a large degree on your ability to explain, in stories, what you idea is, and how it can connect with all kinds of people.