A few months ago, we spoke about the latest entrant to the startup entrepreneurship ecosystem. This was Startup School Colombo. Organized by the IEEE Computer Society Branch Chapter of IIT, Startup School would take on the form of a 10-week program for inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The commencement session of Startup School Colombo took place on the 18th of September 2018 at StartupX Foundry with Mohammed Fawaz – CEO of Global Tutor taking the stage.

How do I launch my own startup?

“If you’re passionate, you can achieve anything”. That was the opening line of Fawaz. From the get-go, Fawaz emphasized that the first step to having your own startup begins with an idea. It doesn’t need to be a game changer. It can be as simple as trying to find a more innovative solution to one of the problems you have in your life.

Fawaz also spoke about the mentality in Sri Lankans were the moment we launch an idea and it fails financially, we lose all hope and we get disheartened. Rather than taking that approach, Fawaz suggested that we think of it as a learning experience. You’ve probably heard the statement “If you’re going to fail, fail fast”. Well, that is quite accurate, Fawaz explained.

Startup School Colombo
Mohammed Fawaz addressing the gathering at the first session of Startup School Colombo (Image Credits: Startup School Colombo)

Rather than sticking to just one idea, you’re also better off having a wide variety of ideas. That way, even if one fails, you can go on to the next one and so on and so forth. Fawaz drew from his personal experience when launching Global Tutor. He was 21 at the time with no knowledge of how to run a startup or the startup ecosystem. But he learned the ropes and to this day, continues to learn about how to run a startup.

Being an entrepreneur is not fun

Entrepreneurship is not portrayed in the glamorous way that you see, Fawas explained. In fact, it’s far from it. You won’t just become a millionaire overnight unless you’re really really lucky. There will be blood, sweat, and tears invested in this and you will have to work every day for a very long time to do this.

Startup School Colombo
Being an entrepreneur is by no means a glamorous thing (Image Credits: Founder Institute)

The reason for launching your own startup are many. Fawaz explained that the trends of working with young minds is the challenge. Some people might not want to work under somebody else. They may feel constricted in terms of their creative expansion. So, rather than work for a company, millennials and budding entrepreneurs are more likely to start their own company just because they get to work the way they want to work. So if a person is not a fan of wearing formal clothing and talking to people This can range from the dress code to working hours, to languages spoken, and everything in between.

You can’t put a value on knowledge

During the initial running of your startup, you will probably have a few clients who are looking to work with you. If you don’t have any clients, then that’s nothing to worry about. It’s all about experience and knowledge.

So, rather than having a 100 clients and not gaining any knowledge about how to manage your business processes or your clients, you might be better off having no clients at all and a wealth of knowledge gained from having your own startup. You can use the knowledge you have gained to create a more sustainable and innovative solution which would be more attractive to clients.

Startup School Colombo
Mohammed Fawaz continuing his session (Image Credits: Startup School Colombo)

“After all, Entrepreneurship is about how you handle things”, Fawaz explained. The road isn’t going to be easy. Since a majority of the audience were first-year students, Fawas emphasized that they have a long way ahead of them to launch their startup. But that also doesn’t mean that one should idle. Rather, Fawaz explained that you should experiment and find your niche. If you have a bunch of ideas that you feel can make an impact, you can try them out. Just make sure that you don’t invest all your funds in one idea. That way, even if it fails, you still have some money left to work on another idea.

Leave no stone unturned

In addition, Fawaz also emphasized that you should take every possible advantage to market your product and grow awareness of it. You can do this by taking part in hackathons and competitions that are organized throughout the year. This would give you an idea of how your product performs in real-world scenarios.

In addition, the people who judge these competitions are always on the lookout for the next unicorn so it’s the perfect opportunity to grow your network and market yourself as well. If you get selected for something, be proud of it and give it all you have. If your idea doesn’t get selected, don’t lose hope, but learn from what happened and reiterate.

A startup requires commitment

Startup School Colombo
The image says it all (Image Credits: QuoteFancy)

Fawaz emphasized that choosing to run your own startup is a commitment should be treated as such. You will run into your fair share of challenges and obstacles, but you need to face them head-on. That is how you grow. So, how do you start your startup? Well, that’s what the Startup School Colombo aims to answer. For now, Fawaz explained that you should see what resources you have at your disposal. See if there’s a problem that you can solve with the expertise you have and then work on that.

With that, Startup School Colombo kicked off

Startup School Colombo
Kicking off an even with the mandatory selfie (Image Credits: Mohammed Fawaz)

The rest of the sessions would continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next 10 weeks. We at ReadMe will keep an eye out to see how things are faring. You can stay tuned to our Twitter and Instagram feeds to stay in touch. Alternatively, you can also check out the Facebook page of Startup School Colombo for more details as well.

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