More than ever, students are embracing the wealth of information available to them and creating businesses, with OECD data reporting that of the 85,000 tech businesses founded by Indians, 8500 startups were founded by students. Clearly, there is a trend to be seen of during-study entrepreneurship. Why? Perhaps not pay, as according to NextWeb research, most tech startup owners will only pay themselves a minimal salary in the first year – in fact, a salary of US$50k is only usually reached once the workforce reaches 10 people.
Yet, the rate of student startup founding increases. The truth is, a digital startup can be an incredibly rewarding undertaking, both in terms of promoting your skills online in order to build work experience, but also as a valuable asset to take with you post-graduation. Founding and maintaining any business hones and expands technical skills whilst teaching financial responsibility and, ultimately, enriches you as a person.
Budgeting and funding a business
Many small businesses arise from a hobby that becomes financially viable. A classic example would be crochet; in the modern day, digital apps and services arise from other disciplines, such as fashion influencing digital design. A stumbling block for many entrepreneurs is drawing a line between business and fun. The reason so much money is being pumped into automation as it will save time. Remain vigilant over the time you’re giving over to your business, and work efficiently – any time on a hobby is a bonus, but when it comes to business, time is money, and you must spend it effectively.
Similarly, financing your digital startup can be done from savings, personal income, and making use of freeware as opposed to costly proprietary licenses. However, mixing personal and business finances can spell disaster; according to Eide Bailly, this can crash your business and potentially land you in trouble with the tax authorities. Thoroughly budget for your business, and consider investigating lines of credit to potentially support your expenses – both financial and in business.
What are the gaps in the market?
India has a long and rich heritage of tech education. The Computer Society of India outlines the 511 student chapters it has on its website, and over 100,000 people are involved in it as professional members. Clearly, there is a huge desire in the local and international market for digital skills. What form do these take?
India is currently viewed as a huge open market to the big e-commerce giants of the world. Without a quasi-monopoly formed, as is seen in America and Western Europe, there is a void in which hundreds of startups have formed. The result, according to The Times of India, is that tech giants are gobbling up startups to use their bespoke local knowledge and intuitive design in their own larger scale projects.
For a student with technical skills, that could mean designing any form of e-commerce function, lingual tools for smart devices, integration on the internet for local services or even locally relevant blogging tools that provide knowledge to these giants. All of these ideas can raise your businesses value and put you in the sights of those tech giants and the expertise they can offer to further your career.
Environmentally friendly and ethical startups
E-commerce is a huge global industry demanding innovation from multiple sectors. However, growing at a substantial rate is the global trend towards environmental awareness, responsibility and green tech. Green bonds, issued by governments to guarantee environmentally positive production, have been purchased at a big rate in India. According to the UN’s climate change authority, green bond issuance grew 60% in 2018, with India and China leading the charge. What does this mean for you as a student?
The technical skills learned through higher education can be put to work to help optimize green energy projects. One example is Aqubiq, a Danish startup who Business Insider reported that has used mathematical modelling to show communities how to improve on water economy. Or Deemly, a green trustworthiness rating service that enables consumers to confidently assess the impact of businesses they’re seeking to use.
Digital startups may not be able to have a direct and physical impact on the production of goods, but the use of data – which can be made freely available to those with even the most basic of equipment – can impact on the physical processes being undertaken across the world. A technically minded student can confidently apply mathematical, engineering and digital skills to create services with minimal energy input.
Many students will have hobbies or interest sparked by the process of learning. Many more will let this stay as a hobby – and there’s nothing wrong with that. That being said, digital startups offer a low-maintenance, low-cost way to set up a business and create a solid foundation for your future, and, on the way, to help the world just that little it.