The student entrepreneur. A space cowboy among his peers who breaks the norms of career growth by taking the game into his own hands. He drives a 2007 Audi and makes snarky, yet well thought comments during lectures. He’s known by the freshmen as the man who can make things happen.
Or that, at least, is the stereoptypical image of a student entrepreneur.
Truth be told, you probably won’t find too many of such pinnacles of individualic excellency wandering around the hallways of your local acedemies. Why? Because frankly, while perfection is something we all aspire to, such people come in rather short supply. As an entrepreneurship society, well, this puts us in a somewhat awkward position: How can an organisation of 7 board members represent the needs of a group that’s smaller than an average classroom of students?
The interesting thing about the faceless body of students is that even though excellency is seemingly revered, all ”stakeholders” seem to value the raw, unrefined aspects of a student’s personality. Business ideas can be out of this world (brilliance and realism –wise), the business plan was drawn on the back of a cigarette carton, and no-one thinks about the money. Where do we draw the line between a student and that beautiful student entrepreneur?
The line that was lost long ago used to be somewhere between thinking and doing, and making money out of it. But by that definition, every single rockband, every single spray can artist and every single street beggar will be considered as an entrepreneur.
Now. This isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Because do we really want to define the student entrepreneur a start-up prodigy who drives an audi and shoots the shit with professors during lectures,
Screw that. The student entrepreneur is the girl who decorates christmas cards with glitter and sells them at her aunt’s shop. The student entrepreneur is the drummer of the band that plays at Nuclear Nightclub on a thursday for 2€ a ticket. The student entrepreneur is the guy who hosts his anime fan site from the server under his bed. They are the unrefined pioneers, the clueless Picassos of our time who spend their free time, resources and life’s blood doing what they absolutely love.
Sneak in a few successors, guide it toward new ideas, and fine, that’ll work as a magazine cover. Everyone loves a handsome killer. But don’t define a student entrepreneur through his burn rate or VC pot. Define it through his passion. Define it through the vigor of his dreams. Because without passion, without skill and dedication, ideas and money are just sunglasses in a nightclub: cool but useless. Don’t revere the victor, revere the fool who did it anyway.
An entrepreneurship community must welcome and represent every single raw, awkward young artesan of his craft. Make them sit down and shove coffee down their throat. Stare at them until and wait for them to speak. Maybe, after a while they will interact, communicate and use tools. Maybe they will find friends. And maybe, just maybe, they create something new and beautiful. Or maybe it’s shit.
Be unrefined. Be ashamed of your business idea a year from now. Make your own damn magazine and be on the cover.
Ville Hulkko Board member of OuluSES