Catalysing: Student + Entrepreneurship = Success 

The stories of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have inspired many students to begin their entrepreneurial journeys. With programs like the Thiel Fellowship, students have even dropped out of school to start their ventures, of which some have achieved tremendous success. Yet one question remains: is entrepreneurship limited to a chosen few who dare to risk everything for their passion or can this success be scaled to the majority of the student community?

In the past, students have often associated education as a bottleneck to their entrepreneurial quests. However, a new trend is occurring as universities undergo initiatives to eliminate barriers between students and their entrepreneurial drives. Entrepreneurship-in-Residence programs are expanding beyond B-schools to other higher-learning institutions and more and more startup founders are collaborating with universities, bringing in their expertise to mentor student-ventures by offering them a real-world perspective on business. StartX, a non-profit community associated with Stanford University, has groomed over 700 startups till date with an average $10M+ funding raised per company through its network of serial entrepreneurs, industry experts and tenured professors. By providing financial aid and customized coaching to student founders, the Student-in-Residence initiative is playing a pivotal role in making Stanford the top startup producer in the world, with 1178 founders coming from undergraduate programs.

Curiosity and energy make students excellent entrepreneurs. Their continuous hunger to learn something new and their never-back-down attitude play a profound role in propelling them to entrepreneurial success. While lack of professional exposure can lead to novel innovations, it remains a significant barrier to the community. Several organisations around the globe are recognizing this opportunity for development programmes that augment youth into their value framework. Adecco Group Foundation is helping students unleash their full potential through their ‘CEO for One Month’ program wherein 47 individuals, each representing a country get an opportunity to step into the shoes of CEOs leading the region’s business. Additionally, one individual becomes the ‘Global CEO for One Month’ and works under the mentorship of Alain Dehaze, Global CEO of the Adecco Group. The organisation is giving young talent unparalleled work exposure while leading a Fortune 500 company with 34,000 colleagues working in 60 countries. Founded in 2007, 180 Degrees is connecting the capabilities of university students to develop innovative solutions for non-profits and social enterprises at an affordable cost. With a dual advantage of providing professional exposure as well as having a massive impact on the people whom the non-profits serve, 180 DC has witnessed tremendous growth with branches in 100 universities and has initiated a new trend as more organizations join the category.

Contrary to general belief, entrepreneurship is much more than building companies and creating value. It is an enabler of turning one’s dream into reality, making it as fundamentally essential as science itself. So why limit entrepreneurship to college students? Why not extend it to primary and secondary schools? With 90% of brain growth by the age of five, children’s minds are very receptive and absorptive of the information provided to them. Imagine a world where children learn not just for knowledge but also to utilize it for creating something tangible and valuable to the people around them. A world where students are graded not only by their test scores but also by the sales/impact they achieve after launching their product/service. A world where no one has to wait for the right time anymore.

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