Chief concerns of new round of student participants


I just started a new Startups Unplugged group for Columbia students (undergrad and MBA) and recent grads.

I was psyched that so many people signed up. There were 25 people in the first session, each of which had submitted information about their startups or concepts beforehand. 

Here’s the breakdown of the chief concerns of this group (more than one chief concern for some participants and none for others).

The relative weights of these top concerns made me pretty happy. 

The top listed concern — “what should I be doing?” — is one that most people have in reality but just don’t recognize until it’s too late. When I was running my startup this was the one all-encompassing question most likely to keep me on track.

I don’t believe fundraising should be anyone’s top concern at an early stage (and I hope ever) and that’s what I told this group. Focusing on raising capital also distracts you when you should be focused on building. If you first build something good, get users and show that you are learning and coachable, funding will come more easily (again, if you need it). 

I was happy to see People in the top three. People problems or lack of good talent is actually the one thing that all startups seem to go through at one time or another. Recognizing this up front is great. It’s also related to some of the most common legal problem I see startups have. (I’ll talk about that one later.)

Also, Viability is something that too few startups think about at the beginning, but I was happy to see it listed. What is your business model (or potential model), how big is your market?

I’m still enjoying running Startups Unplugged, this time in a very different environment.