I’m currently an undergrad; if I have a good idea, should I pursue it at this stage of my life or get work experience first?

  • I would say do it now. Life only gets more complicated as it goes and you will be able to give it way more attention now than if you wait.

  • Are you graduating soon? If you are then I would suggest applying for your “dream job” if you have one and if you get it you can weigh it, and if not, pursue the idea.

    If you’re years away from graduating, of course you should pursue it since you have lots of “free time”. On the other hand, interning at startups is pretty valuable as well.

    What people don’t realize is that ideas and product is the easy part. Customer acquisition is the crazy hard piece. Learning that on some other person’s dime is the key.

  • I think it depends a lot on the project, and your life goals.

    This is something my father taught me, which has served me well. When making major life choices, always ask yourself, “Will doing this get me closer to my life goal?”

    In my case, getting an advanced degree, and actually even doing a postdoc was a better match at the time for getting me towards my life goal — being in control of the direction of the work I do and being able to succeed at projects that will have a significant positive physical impact on the world. I happen to be passionate about chemistry and energy, and in that field attacking a problem without enough training is just a recipe for wasted years of your life.

    But for you, who knows? My passion for chemistry and energy is a function of something inside me that likes to see things change colors when I mix them together, ultimately. I can’t guess your passions, and certainly don’t judge whatever they might be. I’m of the school that whatever your passion is, that is the thing you can truly excel at.

    Problem is, without having done either the education or the startup, how can you know which will put you in a better position to get where you want to be?

    For that, I think your best bet is to find someone much older than you working in the area you want to be in, and tell them your idea. Ask them how hard they think it will realistically be. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to benefit from their experience in understanding how hard what you want to do will really be — and if you’d be better off working at a startup as an intern or even finishing your degree and working at a big company.

    Ask them how long they think it would take a team of three full time people to implement your idea. If the answer is 3 years… find out why they think so. Project management is a very tricky thing, and we often underestimate the amount of roadblocks we’re going to run into. You should at least know they’re there.

    Here are some trivial examples where I think jumping into a startup full time would be a mistake.

    Maybe your market is exclusively big companies. Having never worked at one, how are you going to navigate what their needs are? Can you convince someone who has to be your business partner? If not, why not?

    Maybe you want to design a device/service/software that conceptually you can envision, but you’ve never designed something similar before. Having never designed something similar before, how are you going to get a feel for the real difficulty, or the best methodologies for completing it? The best way to learn how to design a beautiful product may actually be to work at Apple for a while and see how they do it… and get paid well while you’re doing it.

    Anyway, if the idea you’ve come upon is not just a “good idea” but something you would truly love tackling and think you’re positioned to do with your current experience —

    well, that might be going a bit far, it’s fine to jump in a little over your head

    — which, fail or succeed would position you to be more able to do what you think you want to do long-term, then absolutely it is worth trying.

  • Definitely experiment with your idea, and consult with others about it. Employment can quickly sidetrack you, although you learn a lot in the process.

  • Listen to your own Inner Voice buddy! Never let others make major life decisions for you, never let lack of knowledge hold you back.

    Having said that, I believe there’s never a better time than than ‘Now’ to pursue what you really want to in Life.

    If you have self-doubts over the execution of your idea, here are a few things you should consider:

    1. Start small, so even if you fail you come out with good learning.

    2. Partner up with experienced people who can fill the knowledge-gaps in certain areas.

    3. Have ‘Faith’ in Yourself (Key to any Success).

  • If I were you I would spend as much time now trying to validate the idea. This isn’t just speaking to friends or family to see if they like it but to actually get out in-front of people you don’t know and see what they think.

    You can do a lot to see if people want something before you have to build anything. Dropbox simply set up a ‘register for early access’ website before a line of code was written. Y-plan ran around asking people if they wanted free cinema tickets for a show that was about to start, just to see if people would do things last minute.

    Figure out what the assumptions of this idea are and then do a load of little tests, which cost you next to no money, to see if people want the idea – If they do then go for it.

    Its all about mitigating risk – Also I agree that as you leave uni you have a lot less to risk starting something than if you are 5 years into a career. Remember – Snapchat and Facebook were started by people still at uni!

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