Startup School is opening my eyes!

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The first time I was involved in co-founding a company called Solar Semiconductors Morelos (SEMOR) was when I worked in CEMIE-Sol. The objective was to create innovative products based on scientific background and their commercialization. This experience was revealing because all my background was in science and academia; therefore, I was forced to immerse in the innovation community.

Now, the Y Combinator Startup school is opening my eyes because I can see some of the mistakes we made at that time. One of the most important was we were creating products from inside to outside which means we did not explore the industry first. And the second was we had not a commercial or industrial partner in our team. However, the second reason is why we moved forward to establish the SEMOR spinoff.

The startup school has this lecture, “Why to not start a startup,” which I think would be of great help before embracing the startup adventure. Actually, I invite you to assist the Y combinator future founders school at to avoid most of the basic mistakes. For example, in the first lecture, the author Paul Graham expresses the components which make people reluctant to start and startup.

Before embracing the startup adventure on your own, you should find your cofounder.

Figure. First week lesson 2 complete. “Why not to start a Startup” by Paul Graham

From all the reasons Paul Graham gives us in the 2007 essay, “Why not start a startup.” I kept with this idea, “You need a cofounder for starting a startup,” and it’s because the solo mode is extremely hard for success. I remember that in CEMIE-Sol, I was surrounded by academic guys learning about entrepreneurship, but I did not meet people who already have their own company. I think it’s important to meet persons who already experience this path.

Now I will fulfill with my experience some of the reasons for not starting a startup that Pauls gives us in his page:

10 reasons for not starting a startup in my words

  1. Too young:
    I made a click when the author said, “It always seemed to us that investors were too conservative here – that they wanted to fund professors when they should be funding grad students or even undergrads.” I remember asking one of the CEMIE-Sol leaders, “Who are you thinking will be able to innovate?” At that time, I thought that young people developing their masters or Ph.D. thesis could transform their research project into innovation. However, the reality was other funds were assigned for technical leaders who are the researchers.

    We should invest in young people!
  2. Too inexperienced
    That was my reality co-founding the company SEMOR. I was an inexperienced graduate student. The author is right, you are young, and it is the best moment to take risks. If you fail, you can start again, or maybe you can go for the safe route and get a normal job. As I said, our company didn’t take off, but it was because we could not sell a product, inexperience, and legal stuff of intellectual properties.

    Go ahead, do it. 21 years old is a great moment to embrace a startup.
  3. No determined enough
    Determination is a must-have for entrepreneurs who want to start a startup adventure. In my case, It was not easy to choose the startup path because I spent 6 years of training to join academia. However, today the academia is not going well in Mexico due to political matters and Covid-19 lockdown. Then, I am here looking for startup ideas.

    Pivot from academia to entrepreneurship seems a leap of faith.
  4. Not smart enough
    This is not the real difficulty. The problem is that a startup must sell services or products. Then what we need here is a partner with a sales vision because we should adapt to the customers and evolve with time and necessities.

    Moderate smart is enough; you do not need to be a genius.
  5. Know nothing about business
    I appreciate the author’s advice. We do not need to know about business instead of focusing on the product. This advice is related to sales; then we need a product to offer. If there are no sales, there is no business. Therefore, we need to make our customers fell in love with our products as soon as possible.
  6. No cofounder
    When I see this part of the author’s essay, I realize I was in a big problem at that time. We co-found by people immersed in the same innovation project. However, none of us had a full commitment to begin the startup because everybody depended on the innovation project’s funds. At that moment, I didn’t realize how important is a cofounder. This partner should have curiosity and commitment to go for the entrepreneur path.

    Schools are the main source of co-founders. Did you know a colleague who wants to embrace this entrepreneurship endeavor?
  7. No idea
    Well, this is important but not necessary for the begging. First, we need to be sure to step into the entrepreneurship path. How to find startup ideas? Paul Graham advises us to find something that is missing in our life and supply that need. That is the beginning.
  8. No more room for startups
    This seems reasonable in those clusters where universities, government, and the industrial sector joined forces for innovation. Here in Morelos, Mexico is not the case. I can say we need to move into a place where we can find that entrepreneur environment. Thus here in Mexico, there is plenty of room for startups.
  9. Family to support
    Wow, this reason is revealing because a startup is a time demanding work that even can fail. Then, What would happen with the family if the startup fails? That’s why the author recommends starting at a young age. To be able to get up and go for the next opportunity.
  10. Independence wealthy
    This reason matches my experience. None of us was wealthy independent. Therefore, starting a startup consumes money, and we should have savings or maybe a partial job to pay your rent and groceries.

Here are other reasons the author explains why do not start a startup. If you want to read them go to their webpage:

  • Not ready for commitment.
  • Need for structure.
  • Fear of uncertainty.
  • Don’t realize what you’re avoiding.
  • Parents want you to be a doctor.
  • A job is a default.

Thanks for the startup school Y Combinator

Have you started a startup after graduation? You can share your story in the comments below.

Jesus Capistran

Developing thin-film solar cells

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