Startup part 3

A computer science student wrote to me: “My startup teacher told us that anybody could become an entrepreneur and make a lot of money. We are planning to start our company, but what else do we need to be successful? Please advise.”

Answer: If you have learned from the “expert in start-up” seminar, you probably do not need my advice. Of course, anybody can become an entrepreneur because there is no rule forbidding them to be “entrepreneur” but making money is another issue. There are millions of people who think they are “entrepreneurs” but how many of them are making money? Or how many are losing money?

Entrepreneurship is NOT easy. It is risky and requires a lot of efforts as well as creativity, adventure, and continuous learning to deal with failures and uncertainties. To succeed, you need to have a passion for doing something different from others and a good team with special personal characteristics. Some should be competent technically, and others in the business. Please remember that entrepreneurship is a passion for creating something innovatively, for making a difference, for solving the big problem to a lot of people. It has nothing to do with money. Money only comes when you succeed. If you focus only on making a lot of money, as your “start-up teacher,” told you, you will be confused, and afraid of losing money. You will not dare to go further for fear of failure.

Most “start-up” seminars are using “Bill Gates” or Steve Job” as the example to attract people to their classes. Do not think with some information that you learn from these seminars that your startup could be another Google or Facebook. It is only an illusion, as these people are selling you a dream. However, as a startup, the only thing you have is your passion for making a different. If you can inspire others with your vision and commitment, your startup may do well. This capability is also a test for your leadership as the founder of the startup. As founder, you must have a vision of what you are going to do, what market you are going to disrupt and you must be able to convince others, including customers, and investors, to believe in your vision. If you cannot convince these people, you will not succeed.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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