Giving Back to College Entrepreneurs

In college, I had a nice side hustle. It was just me, working with a network of installers and vendors to complete customization projects on my friends’ vehicles. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was on to something. The problem I identified for this side hustle was the same problem I would solve with CCAW years later. Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish someone had helped me understand that I’d stumbled on a problem that a big company could be built to solve.

Today I spoke with two bright college students. They’ve launched an early version of an app and are about to start getting feedback from customers. They’re inexperienced and have a long way to go, but I was impressed. They’ve managed to put together a team of twelve people, build a product, and pitch venture capitalists. All while finishing their undergraduate degrees. When I think back to where I was at twenty . . . well, these two founders are light years ahead.

The opportunity wasn’t a good investment fit, but I wanted to help these two grow. Instead of giving them a cold “no thanks,” I (along with my team member) used the second half of the meeting to coach them. I asked them questions that got them thinking about their problem and solution from different perspectives. We discussed alternative ways to achieve their objective. We gave them honest and candid feedback.

When the conversation ended, I was excited. Not about where they are now, but about their future. These two founders have entrepreneurial drive and hustle for sure. They need coaching and mentoring to help them reach their full potential. Hopefully our session today was a step in that direction.

After reflecting on this and my own journey, I’ve decided to find ways to spend time working with entrepreneurial college students. I’m not exactly sure what this will look like, but I know it’s something I want to do, so I’m going to make it happen. I have a new project! I’m excited to give back and help entrepreneurial students head toward success.