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Most aspiring entrepreneurs see their alma mater, or any university, as a source of courses that can help them, but neglect to think outside the box or take advantage of all the other resources there. The lesson of finding help, relationships and even funding where other people never look is the one that makes all the difference in the entrepreneur’s lifestyle.
As a start-up consultant and investor, living in a region with several local universities, I am continually surprised by the few entrepreneurs who know the resources available from these institutions. Even if you are no longer a student or you are not currently enrolled, it can pay off to get to know the people there and explore possibilities, including the following:
1. Ability to do technical work as a class project.
Each university has graduate students and professors who are eager to find a project with strong commercial potential to use as the basis for a thesis or an advanced class project. They have equipment and smart students who would otherwise cost you a fortune thanks to an outside contract.
2. Online or evening entrepreneurship courses for everyone.
If you need help developing your first business plan or financial model, it becomes easier and easier to find what you need, as well as relationships with peers and investors, without a business consultant. expensive. Visit the university library for access to otherwise expensive business reports.
Related: Tip for Students: Leverage Your College’s Resources
3. Access to intellectual property and ongoing research.
Most universities have patent files from projects that they are ready to license to any entrepreneur for commercial commercialization, with little or no upfront costs. Other research projects and reports in their library are a rich source of new ideas, if you are still looking for a starting point.
4. Get help with funding grants and resources from the incubator.
Each startup must start its search for funding in search of grants, without diluting equity, as well as competitions and foundations. These often lead to angel investors and venture capital investments later, or links to venture capital funds from local companies for selected areas of intervention and technology.
Related: Tapping Into College Resources
5. Find technical and legal advice and counsel.
The best university professors are keen to get involved in real business ventures as advisers to maintain their currency and improve their academic credibility. Their value to you is excellent industry relationships, free legal advice, shared learning and credibility for you from investors.
6. Attract a co-founder and key team members.
Universities are a great source of hungry and passionate people looking to get involved in the next big thing, or an opportunity to change the world. They have links to industry associations and entrepreneurial organizations that can jumpstart your networking efforts, both locally and globally.
7. Access to entrepreneurs in residence, business mentors.
Most schools have a rich supply of real-world executive volunteers available for mentoring. These are also used for business class conferences, judges for business plan contests and presentations to accredited investors. They can also connect you to businesses in the area.
8. Visibility of start-up employment and professional orientation opportunities.
Even if you’re not a student, you can visit the job center to see what’s going on in your area that might interest you, or to check out what your competition is doing. If you’re looking for help, you can find work-ready interns for experience and real insights into new customer segments.
Related: 7 spinoffs that Alma Mater can offer young entrepreneurs
For example, I live in the Phoenix area, home to Arizona State University and the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Both provide incubator services and space for early startups, have patent portfolios for licensing, and many other resources. I volunteer at these two schools, and I am not even an alumnus of either. I bet you can find something similar at a university near you.