One word: start. Yes, start one. If you’re enrolled in a STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) University program, you can’t imagine the amount of resources you have at your disposal to turn your world-changing idea into a product, even in the well known resourceless Angolan universities. Let me give you some tips.
1. Talk about your idea with your classmates
Nobody will steal your idea if you talk about it in a consultative way. This means that you have to validate your idea with others in order to assess your thinking and specially the potential of executing it. Execution is key. I’m sure you’ve heard about the invention of the airplane right? If not, it basically goes like this:
Men saw birds flying. Men jelaoused birds. Many men “had” the ideia of flying. Some men thought of building mechanisms to fly. A few men actually did it. One men did it well. Other men improved the flying mechanism and etc.
Sharing your ideias with the right people can also help you win your first sponsors and supporters. Better yet, if you engage with a welcoming professor and ask for guidance, the best thing that can happen is that they will disapprove your idea and they’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong and what should be the correct approach instead. That feedback shouldn’t disappoint you, it’s actually very important to have in the early stages.
2. Learn how to code or decode the learning algorithm
You should at least be able to understand the basics of one programming language, and specially the ones tailored to build mobile or web apps. If you don’t, learn one. This is critical because it will allow you to build your prototypes and test your assumptions while at the same time help you develop your coding skills.
In general, try to take the most out of your learning opportunities whether during classes or in interactions with students, professors and everyone you get in touch with. You’re also one browser away from the enormous amount of learning material available on the Internet. But hey, learn what is necessary to achieve your goals, whether is for writing better code or to better understand the problem you’re trying to solve with your startup.
3. “Hire” your classmates for free
Don’t go alone in this journey, it’s not fun. Engage with your classmates (one or two to start with) and sell them the idea to build the next “Facebook”. They’ll firstly say that you can’t build Facebook and I totally agree with them, but it worths a try. Find people who have a passion for building things. Get to know what motivates them and what they’d like to become in the future and then assign them roles in the “company”.
“Marcos, you’ll be our Chief Operations Officer. You’ll make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.” If someone came to me in my college days and told me that, I’d immediately feel important and empowered. I’d start reading everything about the “role” and I’d be trying to execute the job to the best of my skills, even without a concrete business to operate.
4. Enjoy the ride
Please enjoy the journey and have fun. Be truly passionate about your idea and make sure you express this passion to everyone that comes your way. Don’t take your college days for granted. There you’ll have the perfect environment to try and fail, to try and learn and to try and succeed. Your first customer might be sitting next you at the library, your Angel Investor might be the professor you avoid talking to.
So that’s it. Go and build something and then come back for the part 2.