Key Learnings from One College Entrepreneur to Another

by Ash Kumra

This chapter is a free excerpt from Confessions from an Entrepreneur (Volume 1).

Nithin Jilla: Student Entrepreneur & TEDX Organizer

To a college student aspiring to be an entrepreneur in his or her 20s, first and foremost understand that you’re still young and you’ve got a lot of time and opportunities ahead of you. There are many different qualities an entrepreneur possesses and these can be learned as well.

As a student not only focus on your college education and learning the most you can inside the classroom but try to involve yourself in your community of students and work on practical applications outside the classroom. I invested my time in joining a student organization through which I was able to do educational projects with Android and iOS, which helped me learn about the Mobile Industry and advancing age of technology. Take it a step further to immerse yourself within in the community of individuals who are already succeeding and have a bit of wisdom to pass on to someone young like yourself.

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Nithin Jilla: Student Entrepreneur & TEDX Organizer

To a college student aspiring to be an entrepreneur in his or her 20s, first and foremost understand that you’re still young and you’ve got a lot of time and opportunities ahead of you. There are many different qualities an entrepreneur possesses and these can be learned as well.

As a student not only focus on your college education and learning the most you can inside the classroom but try to involve yourself in your community of students and work on practical applications outside the classroom. I invested my time in joining a student organization through which I was able to do educational projects with Android and iOS, which helped me learn about the Mobile Industry and advancing age of technology. Take it a step further to immerse yourself within in the community of individuals who are already succeeding and have a bit of wisdom to pass on to someone young like yourself.

You have to feel it out and surround yourself with the people who are like minded and connect with them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not once, not twice, but more than three times. There are always people willing to help, and you can’t do everything alone. Realizing that collaboration and teamwork are essential helped me find the right group of people to run organizations, complete projects, and make an impact as one.

If you’re looking for guidance find a mentor or a group of mentors early on who can help and learn to pick their brains apart as much as possible. I know for me, I started early and learned more than I could ever imagine—from speaking to strangers and learning about product development to learning how to network in an environment and build long lasting relationships.

Find someone who you’d not only like to be one day but someone who you can learn from and surpass. Those are always the best mentors—the ones that are willing to not only help you but also push you to your limits and see past your excuses. It’s important to keep in mind that every excuse you make makes your problem bigger, so stop making excuses and just work smart.

Being a student involved in so many different areas and projects, I sometimes found my life running me rather than me running myself. From this experience I found it very helpful to take a step back and assess everything. It’s always good to take a step back and focus in again on the areas that are most important for you. It helped me realize I wanted to focus on my work for a non-profit which I want to grow to a national level one day—Kenya Dream. Additionally it also helped me understand that I had to find a way to combine my passion for Technology, Business, and helping others.

With everything you do and partake in, take a moment to think about why you’re doing it. One of the things I found very helpful was figuring out my “why’s” which was beneficial because when you’ve figured out your “why,” your drive, then you’re always willing to put in more than the typical 100% because you’re doing what you love for a specific reason. It’s important to partake in different activities but having a reason and a why for doing things solidifies what you’re already doing and helps you move forward faster and smarter.

College is a once in a lifetime opportunity, with great experiences, so don’t miss out and take advantage. Take risks and create moments with your friends and be willing to say “yes” a lot more than “no.” Learn to be a doer repeatedly so that you’ll be able to find something you like and keep at it. Stop worrying that you’ll fail since all it really means is you’ve found another way something doesn’t work. This has helped me get through a lot of experiences, and it’s good to have them while you’re young and fresh—when you’re ready to get your mind dirty and be creative. Last but not least always keep in mind that how you do the small things is how you do the big things. How you do anything is how you do everything. That is one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve received, which has helped me find my way to the stage of entrepreneurs.

I wish you the best of luck!

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Nithin’s accomplishments include co-founding the first TEDx event at the University of California Irvine and founding the international charity organization Kenya Dream. Kenya Dream is a community-based organization dedicated to improving educational facilities in Kenya, thereby enhancing the learning experience one school at a time.
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