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What college students need to know before starting a business. | Jan Bednar | TEDxBocaRaton


Translator: neil li
Reviewer: Michaela Sergi (Applause) A couple of years ago,
I visited the immigration museum at Ellis Island, New York. I saw a quote on the wall,
that somehow stuck with me until this day and it goes something like this: “Before I moved to the US, I heard
that the streets are paved with gold. When I got here
I found out three things: first, the streets
were not paved with gold; second, the streets
were not paved at all; and third,
I was expected to pave them”. The reason why that quote
resonates with me so much is because it reminds me
how difficult a life can be when you move
into a foreign country without speaking their language, having
any friends, or knowing their culture. When I was seventeen years old,
I had a huge dream of moving into the US, finish the school,
and start a business. And now I am happy to say
that I finally fulfilled my dream of starting a business,
as I’ve run my business for about a year and now employed 15 people and
we just had 1.5 million dollars in revenue (Applause) I’m not the most seasoned
entrepreneur out there, but I do wanna share three key pieces
of advice that have helped me succeed as a college entrepreneur. The number one thing to starting
any business is to find the problem. Might sound easier than it is,
but finding a problem is the key ingredient
to starting any business. Now, you might wonder,
‘how do I find a problem?’ Well, start with yourself. Start with your hobbies
and the things you like to do. Do you like travelling?
Do you like sports? Do you like video games?
Either one of these things. There is bunch of challenges
that surround that particular hobby that might be waiting for
your business idea. When you do come up with a solution, you want to talk to the community
and your friends, and see if they would use it, if they would like that business,
and how much they would pay for it. Once you get to that point,
you’ve got something. I was lucky.
When I was a sophomore in college, I was approached
by a friend of mine who asked me to buy an Under Armour T-shirt
for him here in the US and ship it
to the Czech Republic. I didn’t really understand
why he asked me to do this, so I started doing some research. It turns out, there is a lot of businesses
here in the States that don’t ship products internationally,
or don’t accept foreign payments. On the other hand I knew,
there is millions of people that don’t have access
to the same products. So, I started a business. I paid a friend of mine a hundred dollars
to create a very basic website for me that would basically explain to people
how to buy from the US and I would ship it to them overseas. I’ve run that business
for couple of months, and it wasn’t until
four months before graduation when I heard of the FAU
business plan competition and the 250 thousand dollar price poll
that you can win. At that point, I knew I am in. The problem was, I had no idea
how to write a business plan, or how to present
in front of a large audience. So I knew I needed to get help. I found out about the free seminars that
Florida Atlantic University was offering to young start-ups
to help them write business plans. So I started attending these seminars,
and that’s when I came across a very strange term to me at the time,
that’s called ‘mentorship’. The reason why I say it’s strange
is because the mentorship is a concept of
experienced business people that have been there,
they have done it, they have successfully
started, launched, exited businesses. And now they want to help people,
young people like myself, to get their business to the next level. For free. That’s the biggest catch,
that’s the thing I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t understand how somebody
would volunteer their time for free, and not want anything for it. The reason why I don’t understand it
– or I didn’t understand it – was because, coming from a post-communist
country, you get nothing for free. And when you do,
there is usually a catch. Well, there wasn’t a catch this time. I met my first mentor, Bob Millson,
a grey-haired, seventy-year-old dude who has been there, he has done it,
he sold and exited his business, and he was there for me. He has helped me to write
a killer presentation, a business plan, and helped me win the first place
at the FAU business plan competition. (Applause) Before I knew it,
I was approached by the FAU to represent them at the State-wide,
collegial competition up in Orlando. Before I knew it,
I was standing up on stage, right next to every single
major university in the state of Florida, competing for the State championship. I told the judges my story. I told them how a friend of mine
has approached me with a problem, I came up with the solution,
and I had an existing problem and a existing business
that would solve this problem. They loved it so much that they thought that FAU and me should win the first place
in the collegial State-by competition. That was great feeling. That was one of my
best accomplishments so far and at that point I knew
there is no going back. I joined the FAU
Tech Runway Accelerated Program that is designed to help young companies
and young people like me to succeed in their business. And that is exactly
what they have done for me. They have provided me
with capital, space, and a bunch of
other grey-haired mentors to help me get my business
to the next level. That brings me to the my
third piece of advice, which is to bootstrap. Bootstraping basically means, “don’t spend money on things
you don’t necessarily need.” It’s really easy to spend money
but it’s a lot harder to make them. When you are in school,
you are in the learning phase. You should really take advantage
of all the resources available to you on the internet, on You Tube
or anywhere else that you can imagine. You can learn the basics of basically
any business online by yourself, and you don’t have to spend
tons of money doing it. When you are starting a business,
it’s extremely important to don’t spend money on things
you don’t need and you can do yourself. When you get to the point
where you validate the business, you validate your concept,
and you know that you can move forward, at that point you can start spending
as much money as you want, but you can have intelligent
conversations with those people because you will know
the basic photoshop, basic accounting, basic sales and marketing. You will know all those
and that’s what helps you. The last thing that I want you to remember is to don’t be afraid
if doesn’t work out the first time. Thomas Edison was once asked
if he was okay with the fact that he failed a thousand times
before he developed the light ball. He simply smiled and said: “I didn’t fail a thousand times; it just happened to be
a thousand-step process”. And that is exactly
how you should look at it. Your mindset has to be set
on you succeeding. When you give it everything you have,
when you have put your heart into it, a countless hours,
it will eventually happen for you. So don’t give up. You might have to pave the road
to get to the gold, but when you do, and you get there,
it’s definitely worth it. Thank you. (Applause)

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