A Guide for Incoming Entrepreneurs at Georgetown
Yesterday I spoke with many new students at Georgetown during their orientation about my experience with entrepreneurship and what resources I recommend. In the post below I’ve written out what I’ve found valuable at Georgetown, in DC, and in following entrepreneurship generally.
Get on Twitter. Twitter is very actively used by entrepreneurs and those in tech. You’ll see the honest opinions of very powerful people in tech and VC posted here. Here’s a list of who to follow to get started. My top five are @marca, @sacca, @jason, @sama, and, yours truly, @chriscottrell.
Follow Jason Calacanis and subscribe to Launch Ticker. Launch Ticker is a daily email of the biggest news in tech curated by Jason Calacanis (one of the people you should follow on Twitter). There are great insights here about the big shifts. You won’t get these kind of insights at this speed from any other resource like Fast Company or Fortune, etc.
Follow Andreessen Horowitz. This is the most well-known VC firm in the world. Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are the two founders and are both elsewhere on the guide. Read this article in The New Yorker on Marc to see why. They have a ton of great content on their website.
Read Paul Graham’s essays. Paul is a VC and one of the founders of Y Combinator. His blog has some great writing that is often cited by successful technologists and entrepreneurs. Some good essays to start are How to Start a Startup and The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups.
Follow Tim Ferriss and check out his podcast. Tim is a crazy guy worth knowing about. His website has some insanely (not a word I use lightly) valuable resources and his podcast is one of the best — guests like Tony Robbins, Gov. Schwarzenegger, Chris Sacca, Jamie Foxx, Rainn Wilson, etc etc etc.
Apply to attend Hive. Hive is an incredible organization of leaders started by a young entrepreneur in San Francisco. They just started hosting events on the east coast. I attended a few years ago and learned an immense amount while getting to know incredible people. My roommate was an astronaut.
Visit 1776 often. Georgetown has a membership at 1776 so you can go work in their campus around other entrepreneurs and teams building businesses. They put on some good events and is the hub of entrepreneurship here.
Join the University Club.* This is one of the capitol’s oldest social clubs and is worth joining if you plan to stay in DC. If you plan to relocate after school, it’s probably not worth it. This is especially valuable for those taking a full-time job in DC after school but with an interest in entrepreneurship. It’s a good way to get to know successful people in DC. A number of students established in DC are already members.
Do VCIC. We are hands down the best school at preparing teams to compete on the national level for VCIC. Jeff Reid was a founding part of the competition and runs this really well. These are some really intense weekends but I learned more from this than from a few classes.
Get to know the Entrepreneurs in Residence. Georgetown has some world-class entrepreneurs who volunteered to help you. Have an idea you want to flesh out? Go ask. Not sure how to transition after business school? Go ask. Come with smart questions, know their background and become known to some of DC’s best entrepreneurs.
Apply for InSITE. The best part about InSITE are the classmates you get to know much better and identify with as peers. It’s challenging but if you’re considering the consultant route as you build towards starting something of you’re own this is really perfect. If you already know what you want to start and you’re ready to go, then don’t do this. Go get your idea off the ground.
Go on the Cal Trek. The companies we visit on Cal Trek are typically tech-focused, although most are well-established and not entrepreneurial. The experience is worth it because you get to know people and experience San Francisco.
Do Venture Fellows if you’re interested in VC. I’m not a Venture Fellow but I’ve heard good things.
Do Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend is a challenge and is worth doing to experience the headiness of starting a new venture. You’ll say pivot more times in that weekend than the rest of your life.
If you have an idea, consider Summer Launch Program and Rocket Pitch.
Read. A lot. You will get more from reading regularly than any other habit. Warren Buffett read “between 600–1000 pages per day” at the beginning of his career and “still devotes about 80% of his day to reading.”
You’ve decided to pursue the harder path. No one will instruct, demand, decide or measure for you. You do all that. The bar is so much higher and you have to respond by being that much better. So take lessons from history, read the great philosophers, think deeply about life. You are the pioneer of our age. Equip yourself with everything you can. Learn life lessons from the mistakes and victories of others. Get the wisdom of a thousand lives in one. </rant>
My first recommendations: Zero to One, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, and Ego Is The Enemy. Or get the Harvard Classics for free online and read these for 15 minutes a day for a “classic liberal education”.
Realize entrepreneurship includes stuff outside tech and is less competitive and is often ripe for someone who knows tech to come in and crush it.
Stop thinking about Steve Jobs.