Trying to pick a college major and want to be an entrepreneur in the future? I have advice for you…

Be non-traditional to win.

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking with the younger siblings of a close friend of mine and they were talking about their college plans. Their college strategy sounded very familiar as it was identical to mine way back when. Like them, as a high schooler I knew I wanted to one day start a business and planned to use college as a giant networking event to find co-founders.

During both undergrad and grad school I studied fields that taught me how to build things. It seemed like an obvious thing to do because I would learn how to build things and meet other people who knew how to build things. The idea was that we would simply need an idea to execute and we would be be over night quadrillionaires. Easy, right!?!

While learning how to build things helped in many aspects of my own entrepreneurial journey, I wish I had taken a different path with college. I wish I had studied something extremely narrow where deep expertise are required to be successful. Even better, I wish I had studied something most people knew nothing about. For example…

  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Health Care Services Management
  • Theme park engineering
  • Mortuary science

Thinking back, I really should have considered similar non-traditional fields of study when picking what to major. Reason being, a narrow, non-traditional major could provide access to stale industries that are ripe for innovation. As someone who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time towards trying to drum up the next big idea, one thing I constantly run into is wishing I could tap into a complex and ignored field to identify opportunities for innovation. That is much easier said than done.

For example, how many mortuary science startups do you read about but everyone dies, right! I can already hear the “we just need to get 1% of all deaths and we’ll be…” pitches. Jokes aside, being a part of a (possibly) ignored field could give you access to an insane amount of opportunities with little competition. It would be easy to study the basics of technology on the side but not have it be your entire focus as it would be with a (traditional) CS degree.

Note: CS is an extremely complex major and field. My point is to focus on a more niche, non-traditional field of study. Respect to all the devs out there ✊.

I’ll admit, I’m making a bunch of huge hunches here. Maybe there are a ton of techies tackling the spaces I mentioned above. Maybe the fields I listed are already drenched in innovation and there’s no room for new ideas. Regardless, I think my advice still could have legs…

Deciding what you want to do in college? I suggest picking a field you find interesting but is non-traditional. The narrower the better. Become an expert in the field and keep track of ideas and opportunities you stumble upon. At the same time, learn about technology and join developer communities you can tap into in the future. Once you have the big idea you’ll know everything about a market not many do and you’ll have the connections to execute an idea few are chasing.

I’d love to hear your feedback on my advice. Please comment below!