This summer, I have been working full time on my video editing startup Activid. It has been an unusual summer for me – for the first time, I’ve needed to set my own hours, make my own deadlines, and define my own objectives. None of it has come easy, but each challenge has helped teach me something new. I’ve learned just as much about myself and how I work as I have about starting a business.
It wasn’t the easiest decision to work full time on Activid this summer. At business school, there is a very structured process in which students recruit for internships, work at a large company over the summer, and either accept a full-time offer or re-recruit the following year. I watched all my friends go through traditional MBA recruiting while I sat on the sidelines, knowing I wanted to follow a different path. At times, I even felt irresponsible not taking advantage of Booth’s Career Services, effectively foregoing the one resource students value most. But then I would remind myself, that’s not why I came back to school. My goal upon entering Booth was to learn some new skills, meet smart and interesting people, take advantage of Booth’s entrepreneurial resources, and use the summer to try my hand at starting a business. Thus far, I’ve accomplished all four, so I feel like I’m off to a good start.
More than anything, this summer has taught me that it’s hard to work by yourself for 10 hours a day. When you have no one else to share the burden of starting a company with, or even to bounce ideas off of, it can get lonely. In the future, I’d like to find at least one other person to work with who shares my excitement in living through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
Of course, I learned a whole lot about starting a company, too. My college friend Dru subletted one of our bedrooms this summer, and every night for the first two weeks, he asked me “What did you do today?” He meant it as a half-joke, but he really did want to know. In the next few posts, I’ll try to answer Dru’s question and describe my summer experience. My plan is to break it into separate functions, including business strategy, product development, sales and marketing, employee management, and customer service. Most importantly, I’ll show how all this work led to one of the greatest days of my life – the day Activid got its first real customer.