I got introduced to entrepreneurship in engineering school through a school project. My classmates and I joined courses on topics such as finance or marketing. We had to deliver a minimum viable product and a business plan in 6 months, under the guidance of two tutors. The school project was fun and rewarding from a technical point of view. We won a small prize. But it wasn’t exhilarating. The way we teach entrepreneurship in school is still far from reality. It projects wrong perceptions.
Writing a business plan is incredibly boring. Business plans are for fundraising: you don’t need one when you are just getting started in a software project. Making business plans mandatory implies entrepreneurs must seek funds first. It is not only wrong but also dangerous for a startup. Validation through monetization comes first. You have to talk to real people at every iteration of your product. Entrepreneurship becomes exhilarating once you understand it’s about solving real problems that real people have in an innovative way. Ideas are worthless, execution is fundamental. 6 months to build a software MVP is way too long. In hackathons, MVPs are built in a few days, one week top. The rest of the time can be spent iterating over the initial idea or pivoting, depending on the user feedback. We are not taught how to think fast-prototyping. In engineering, we tend to overly focus on the technical side of entrepreneurship, but making is only a tiny part of the overall experience. Marketing is not about studying Porter’s Five Forces, it’s about communicating why we do things, how we do them, and what we do. Casual talk with individuals like you and me. Studying accounting - true story, our Finance course teaches us accounting - is useless if you don’t know how to monetize a product, to create a healthy and sustainable business through cold hard revenue.
If it wasn’t for Pieter Levels I discovered almost two years after this project, I would have never thought of entrepreneurship as a possible career for me. It felt way too unattainable, intimidating, and mysterious. Yet being a tech entrepreneur is at anyone’s reach: you don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need to know how to code, you don’t need to join an incubator, you don’t need cofounders. All you need is an idea to help others remove a pain point and be willing to learn how to make this idea a reality.