A College Student’s Guide to Startups: All You Need to Know Before Starting a Business

So there they were two college students trying their best to revolutionise the world with their idea, that too in the 1990s.

They worked day and night, struggled to balance their studies and the startup they started together.

At one point, the young duo found it far more challenging to maintain their company that they decided to sell it for 1 million dollars, but they couldn’t.

This is the true story of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who surpassed all hardship and challenges to achieve what they desired. Revolutionise. Those two names might already make you think of which company I am referring to.

Yes — Google!

They had a vision and goal, unique and powerful, and they didn’t wait for anyone, not even time. They acted on it and they’ve achieved it. They are one among the many entrepreneurs who started young and found success. Netflix, Airbnb, Yahoo!, WordPress, etc., are some other examples.

Are you passionate about walking the entrepreneurial journey? Are you someone with a vision who believes in making a difference? Then this guide is for you.

So, what will you learn from this?

  • A brief history of startup cultures and how to build them

What is startup culture?

You might already know some part of it, like having a good work environment, appreciating their work and so on. But it’s more than that.

You will have to provide a space for your initial employees to feel like they are there to provide value to your startup. An open space for their voices to be heard and their passion for working out the way they want.

Having a unique goal to work together and forward. And above it all, the way you treat them and help them as a founder.

We can take an example for better understanding.

It was 2017. Faiz, CEO and Founder of NeoITO, was sitting opposite a potential hiree behind his small desk. The company has endured three years of hardship and was finally getting traction.

He leaned forward and asked, “80% of our employees are currently busy with work, and you have received another client. Apparently, the client’s work would require the attention and support of 100%. What will you do?”

The hiree shifted in his chair, contemplated the scenario, and said, “Will work with the remaining 20% workforce.”

Faiz, premeditating the answer, smiled and answered, “No. Even if the new client can bring us heavy capital, we shouldn’t do that. Clients will come, but dedicated employees won’t.”

He continued with the interview, made the candidate at ease and finally hired him.

Do you see what he did there? Passing on the positive vibes, giving them an overview of what he and his company stand for. Because Faiz knew in the future, employees would have to pass on the same to the new hirees.

Provide value to your employees and nurture them; they will become the pillars for your startup’s growth. That should be the startup culture you should be aiming for. Here is something to help you understand how to build a startup team.

Are you ready to startup?

Starting a business is herculean, managing it is much more. So, you have to know whether you are ready to build your startup or not. And the question is how?

Signs you are ready to start a business

Signs you are not ready to start a business

Dos and Don’ts while starting up


  1. Entertaining your prospects and customers: Build a rapport with them and build trust and credibility. Tell them about your passion, vision, etc., and entice them.


  1. Disagree with customers: You should always provide value to your customers. Unsatisfied customers can’t bring you business. And a review from such customers can break your business.

Want some startup advice?

A coach guides a team and brings the best out of players. So how can you bring the best out of yourself? Where can you go to clarify your doubts?

There are typically 5 types of people who can help you with this. They are:

  1. Lawyers

Yes, family and friends are a viable medium. They can help you manage your finances, guide you through hard times and even help you with some decisions as well.

Now for the rest, you can find them from the following list we have compiled for you.

  1. Quora


This is the vital part one can’t ignore when walking the entrepreneurial path.

Networking, as you may already know, is the process of contacting and sharing information with a person, group, or organisation to provide mutual benefits. The purpose here is to build healthy relationships. Through business networking, you will meet different entrepreneurs from across the world.

This is a personal skill an entrepreneur must-have. If you shies away from such activities, you must force yourself into such situations. Mould yourselves and use social media and business events to network actively.

Why you should network?

  1. Opportunities: It can bring in new opportunities to improve your sales, marketing, finding prospects and maybe some joint ventures with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

How to network effectively?

  1. Research: Understand what kind of people you want to network with and research the communities where they are active.

Startup experience

Imagine swallowing the red pill, and there is no one like Morpheus to make you understand what matrix really is. It will be the same case if you start a business without any experience. And that’s why working at a startup is essential for every young student entrepreneur.

You can either sign up for a job in a startup or perhaps an internship. Why? Because you have to learn about the following and bring all the positives to your business when you launch a startup.

  1. Responsibilities of each team member. Working within a startup means everything you do will directly impact the company.

Ideating your startup

Ideation, while seems like an easy task, is the hardest of all. Your idea is the seed that should root deeper, giving strength for the upward growth of your startup. So your startup idea must have such potential.

As a student entrepreneur, you will be full of energy and can shoot out ideas like bullets out of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s minigun.

Your job will be to pinpoint that one idea you want to build your startup on, which will be harder when the list of ideas is long. So how can you choose the right startup idea for starting your startup?

Well, that’s exactly what this startup guide is about.

Check out This Ted Talk by Jan bednar where he talks about his experience building an idea and the core essence that helped his business grow.

Ideation stages

1. Focus on the problem

Yes, it’s all about identifying the problem and solving it. And it’s always easier to find a solution to an existing problem than to create an idea and then search for the problem. By doing so, you will already have a cluster of target customers and markets.

2. Your idea should be doable

Your business idea, while maybe unique, should be doable with the current technologies. Otherwise, your idea will only be good in the papers.

3. Market research

This is the crucial part and you must dedicate a sizeable amount of your time here, for improper market research can break your startup.

  • Competitor research: Make sure the idea you have in mind is unique, or the competition is low. It is hard to rise when so many competitors are already towering over you.

Our team at NeoITO has lately created a template to help startup founders generate an effective idea to build their business/product. You can read about the ideation guide here. Or you can download the guide and template .

Student startup ideas

For college startups, whether it be for a tech startup or a small business startup, good ideas are hard to come by. In this startup guide, we have gone the extra mile to help you with best performing startup ideas, both tech and small business.

Tech Startup Ideas

  1. Artificial intelligence company

Get more tech startup ideas here.

Small business ideas

  1. Dropshipping

Get more small business ideas here.

How to build your startup team?

Your startup journey from a student to a full-time entrepreneur will be a rollercoaster ride. It will have its ups and downs. So you’ll need a strong team to back up your startup when you face challenges. After all, isn’t it good to have someone to weather the storm with you?

The question is:

“Should you go solo or create an in-house team from scratch?”

The short answer to this question depends on what you plan to build.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, you should look at the long-term benefits of your business. Because entrepreneurship is too competitive for impulsive decisions.

What happens when you become a solopreneur?


  • Being a solopreneur is suited for small businesses that you can handle comfortably.


  • Your growth will be slower.

What happens when you build a team?


  • You can easily delegate tasks and keep your productivity intact.


  • Your expenses will increase in line with the salaries of your employees.

Different scenarios of starting up

Launching your startup and being at its helm may sound exciting. But it takes months and years of hard work and perseverance to scale your startup. So, you need to be cautious while dipping your feet in the aggressively competitive startup world.

Now we can discuss the different startup scenarios and their impact on your business.

Starting up with a co-founder

Ideally, it’s good to have a co-founder by your side when you get things rolling for your startup. Roping in a co-founder has several advantages:

  • A co-founder helps share the responsibilities.

On the flip side, a co-founder by your side also means:

  • Disagreements.

Starting up without your co-founder

While it’s not impossible to launch your business without a co-founder, you may face hiccups such as:

  • Lack of guidance and feedback.

But launching your startup without a co-founder also gives you:

  • Creative freedom.

Starting up with adequate funds

Businesses need money to sustain in the fierce competition. Before you roll up your sleeves to realise your startup plans, ensure that you’ve enough money in your wallet. Lack of funds is one of the most significant reasons startups fail.

If you have enough money to feed your startup, you can:

  • Set up all the necessary resources for your startup.

It takes at least a year for a startup to be profitable. Until you’re profitable, you have to run expenses by yourself.

Starting up without funds

We have no plans to discourage you, but launching your startup without adequate funds is a Herculean task. Because 29% of startups fail due to insufficient funds.

If you don’t have enough funds to support your startup, you can work on it as a part-time project. Many startup founders do it.

Your best bet here is joining a full-time job and focusing on your startup after work hours. Moreover, you can save for your startup from your salary and become a full-time founder when you have adequate funds.

Sources of fund

  • Friends and family:Turning to your closest people is your easiest option to raise funds. You can approach your friends and family with your business idea and ask them to invest in your startup. However, ensure that you treat them like actual investors.

Read More: Top 10 Sources of Funding for Your Startup

Starting up with your MVP

Getting started with an MVP will surely give you a headstart. An MVP helps you validate your product idea and earn some early adopters for your product.

Here are the main advantages of launching your MVP:

Starting up without an MVP

Of course, it takes great courage to launch your startup without an MVP and just based on an idea. But courage alone won’t be enough to thrive. When you don’t have an MVP ready, put all your plans on hold and focus on building one as soon as possible.

Without an MVP:

  • You can’t validate your product idea.

Developing your product

Launching a small business from scratch requires insightful thinking. Product development is an important stage of your startup. But if mismanaged, it can pull your startup dreams down.

Developing an MVP instead of going for full-fledged product development will save you costs and resources. When you plan your MVP development, consider the following factors:

Your goal should be to launch your MVP faster to the market and validate your idea with minimum risks.

Getting your first paid customer

Many startups exhaust in their journey to find early traction.

Getting people to pay for your service or product isn’t a Herculean task, but it’s no piece of cake either.

Once you launch your MVP, you will receive feedback from your early adopters. You can revamp your product accordingly. You should focus on offering a seamless user experience. Clearly define your product and how it solves customer pain points.

Some strategies that can get you the first paying customer are:

  • Pitching your product to a select audience.

Approaching investors

Now, you’ve built your MVP and got some early traction. The next step is to scale your startup.

And you need financial backing to scale faster. Investors usually hold an objective approach towards startups.

What happens if your startup fails? The contingency plan

A contingency plan outlines the course of action you need to take in case of a business failure to reduce risks and associated impact.

Getting things off the ground as a studentpreneur is challenging. That’s why many startup experts advise against starting up.

Running a startup also means you should be ready to encounter many risks — from market crashes to natural calamities. The latest example of a contingency case is the covid pandemic.

Your contingency plan should centre around:

  • Your available resources

You can simply write down a contingency plan with five critical elements:

  • Risk

You can create a table like this for better understanding:

Successful student startups

Many gigantically successful companies that you see today are started by students like you.

Here’s a list of top companies founded and scaled by students.

  • Facebook


1.How do I convince my family before starting up?

Be completely honest and transparent with your family. Discuss your idea so they can understand and tell them the practical steps you’re going to take to launch your business.

2. Should I drop out of college to launch my own business?

It entirely depends on you. While dropping out is better for some, it’s not the case for everyone. You can decide based on your priorities.

3. How do I choose a tech partner for my startup?

Choosing a tech partner for your startup can be tricky. Look for your requirements and the expertise of your tech partner in meeting them.

4. Where do I get legal advice for my startup?

Launching your startup also means tons of documentation and legalities. Your best bet here is to approach legal business consultants through referrals or use legal directories.

5. What are some accelerator programs supporting student startups?

Startup accelerators are a good choice if your startup has growth potential. Some of the most popular accelerator programs include Y Combinator, Techstars Seattle Accelerator, AngelPad, Google Launchpad Accelerator, Founder Friendly Labs, etc. You can also explore flexible tech equity programs like NEEP.

6. How much does it cost to build my product?

Again, the cost of your product development completely depends on your requirements and the features of your product. Get in touch with our experts now to get an estimate.

7. Is it necessary to build an MVP?

While there’s no rule that you should build an MVP before creating your final product, an MVP will help you validate your product at an affordable cost.

8. What happens if my MVP fails?

If your MVP fails, the immediate step to follow is to tweak its features to suit customer needs. Prioritise your MVP features and ensure you’re targeting the right people before revamping your MVP. You can seek the help of our MVP experts to decrease your chances of failure.

9. Should I start up early or after gaining experience?

It depends on what you want. If you’re dipping your feet in a new domain, you can first build your experience rather than starting up early. On the other hand, you can start up early if you have an in-depth understanding of your business and its revenue streams.

10. Is launching my startup a safe choice?

Startups are not for the faint of heart. Statistically speaking, over 90% of startups fail. So starting up doesn’t give you the safety of a full-time job at the initial stages.



Build, Grow, Scale. | We support founders on their journey from validation to multi-million valuation and beyond. Visit us : www.neoito.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

Build, Grow, Scale. | We support founders on their journey from validation to multi-million valuation and beyond. Visit us : www.neoito.com