Hi, I'm Jan König 👋. I'm one of the founders of Jovo, 28 years old, and live in Berlin. < Go back to learn more.

3 Reasons Not to Start a Company During (or Right After) College

When we got started with #now (the predecessor to Jovo), I was still a student, which means I never had a "real" job.

A few days ago, I found this interesting blog post called "Why You Should Become a Startup Founder As Student: Three reasons for starting your own startup in a dorm" by a fellow Karlsruher from First Momentum Ventures (a student VC which is doing great work!). I strongly agree with the article's points.

I never really questioned my decision to start a company right out of college, and I would do it all over again. However, wanted to reflect on a few "problems" this decision was accompanied with (including proposed solutions), because most articles are currently focussing about "it's OK if you fail", less about "what else you could have done in that time", which is an important thing to consider, in my opinion.

Reason 1: You never had a real boss

As much as starting your own company is great because it means you can "be your own boss," it also means you don't have a boss (or mentor) to learn from.

Many people complain about bad bosses, but I still think it is valuable to learn from someone more experienced (or at least learn from real-life experiences how to become a better manager). After 2 years in, I realized that most stuff I learned was through books/articles plus trial and error. This can be a good thing, but also takes a lot of time.

Proposed solution: This is something I should have done way earlier (and I'm still working on it, to be honest): Actively pursue mentorship. Look for someone more experienced in your field and find a way to regularly (!) exchange ideas with them. A one-time chat only scratches the surface, find someone who is excited to meet with you at least once a month.

Reason 2: You don't have a track record (yet)

From my experience, when people say "it's a strong team," one of the larger factors is recognizable logos on the resume. "They've worked at Google, they probably know what they're doing."

As a startup founder, you probably don't have this proof yet (besides your school, some internships, or side projects). At this stage, people will only believe you can build it when they see it.

Proposed solution: This one is difficult to tackle for capital-intensive business models. Your only proof is execution (and traction). Show the world you can build it, and they will start to trust you.

Reason 3: You will never become a specialist

If you start a company right out of college, you make the decision to become a generalist. You have to do so many things that you will never be able to fully focus on what you're good at.

Of course, you will build domain knowledge, but you will also spend a lot of time with recruiting, accounting, sales, support, and other things. I don't see this as a main problem, because most founders I know enjoy being a generalist and wouldn't thrive otherwise.

Proposed solution: I still haven't solved this (I spent 4-5 hours updating example code in the Jovo Docs today), but I believe that it is important to remove yourself from day-to-day work as much as possible. Build a support system that you can rely on, to be able to focus on the things you do very well (and enjoy!)

Over all, those reasons might be some obstacles, but aren't really any dealbreakers if you love what you're doing.

What do you think? Anything else I missed?

Sign Up

In this newsletter, I try to reflect on my learnings of building an open source startup. Join 135 subscribers who receive a weekly email from me: