Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I Don't Ditch College: An Entrepreneur's Opinion

By Tyler Mahoney

There is an old argument for avoiding higher education: "Bill Gates dropped out of college and he's one of the richest men in the world." Isn't that convincing? Along the same lines, many students and parents have noted that Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college to run Facebook, and have marveled at how successful he is now.

In the past week a battery of arguments against attending college have sprouted across the Internet. Columnist James Altucher at Daily Finance wrote "Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kids to College" and fellow Huffington Post blogger Danny Wong wrote a personal treatise called "Why Ditch College?" Wong says grand life experiences await those who beat their own paths. Altucher says college is a scam and not much more, and one's time would be better spent working, volunteering, or reading.

With the soaring price of college education, these arguments make some sense. Yet Altucher throws the baby out with the bath water when he says, "the entire college degree industry is a scam, a self-perpetuating Ponzi scheme that needs to stop right now." I offer a defense of American post-secondary education. Simply running the tuition numbers and telling people to be entrepreneurs in no way makes up for the personal development and career advantages you can gain by attending college.

College education, especially at private institutions, is prohibitively expensive. But an education should not be judged solely on return on investment: personal growth and achievement cannot be measured on an investment principle. I'm highly critical of our education system: it's outdated and often forgets to put students first. But a quick survey of the facts makes it clear that college isn't as bad a choice as Altucher and, to a lesser extent, Wong would have you believe.

James Altucher and Danny Wong have both presented scenarios where becoming an entrepreneur makes more sense, but they fail to demonstrate how plausible it is for someone straight out of high school to get a business off the ground. Mark Zuckerbergs and Bill Gateses aren't born every day. Boot strapping a start-up is time consuming and emotionally draining. You have to be prepared for high stress and very little income for a year, maybe two. All the while you have to keep a positive attitude, network, and push aside all the snake oil salesmen who promise you the world. It's difficult work and even the best and brightest fail. You might learn a lot about the limits of how long a person can go without sleep, but you'll miss the chance to delve into truth, meaning, and character.

In my college experience at Seattle University and my continuing studies at Duke University, I've been able to explore who I am and where I want to go in life. I hung out for four years digging into the minds of St. Augustine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Albert Camus. Most importantly, while attending a Jesuit university, I got to learn from the master of discernment and self-actualization himself, Ignatius of Loyola.

Was it expensive? Yes. Could I get that same experience on my own? Probably not. Running the tuition costs should only be one metric of the many that inform your decisions about college. Yes you'll find debt, but you also get a chance to find out who you are, network with future players in countless industries, and master the all-important art of critical thinking (assuming, that is, you don't spend four years with a blood alcohol level high enough to constantly keep you from the wheel of a car).

The doors that have opened up in my own start-up, Churchrater, continue to swing wide because of my education. I walk, talk, and write about religion and I learned those skills while getting my B.A. in Theology at Seattle University and my M.Div at Duke. That's how I landed my company in the pages of USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and ReadWriteWeb.
I got internships because I went to SU and now people return my emails because I go to Duke University. You can be an entrepreneur without college, but be prepared for an uphill battle on the highest difficulty setting. If you want people to take you seriously, silly letters like J.D., B.A., M.S. or Ph.D at the end of your name help. But what helps even more is if you know who you are and where you want to go in life. If you treat college like a tool to enter the middle class that's fine, but you can also treat it like an incubator to make real waves in this world. Observe, learn, and gather as many skills as you can. Student debt won't be a problem after your first venture capital round goes through.

Those of us who do go to college could bypass our education and start working straight away. For instance, I could follow in the footsteps of my favorite religious figure and become a carpenter. It pays well, and though the work is hard I know I could one day establish myself as a business owner. But I don't want to be a carpenter: I've found a field that challenges, enriches and fulfills me, that helps others, and that allows me to build the world I want to live in without ever having to lift a hammer. College makes this possible for many young adults who don't measure their success in dollars and cents but in the kind of careers they hold. Social workers, teachers, and journalists rightly use college as a springboard to the jobs they want, not the jobs that pay the best.

Mr. Wong is taking time off from school to focus on his start-up, Blank Label. As a full time graduate student with my own start-up, I fully understand the time demands it takes to do both. Power to you, Mr. Wong, I respect your choice to define yourself and grow along with your company. Yet Mr. Altucher's advocacy to not attend college is a shortsighted attempt to explain the real cost of college. If he had some creativity he'd tell parents to send their kids to state school and use the money they save to recruit a few business majors to run their child's start-up. For a generation of team players, colleges are the new incubator for entrepreneurial advancement and personal growth.

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Top 5 Tips From a Start-up CEO (After One Year of On-the-Job Training)

I do not have a Harvard MBA. I’m not a “#u30pro” (but secretly wish I was). I’m not a social networking God (but am getting better).

I am a former engineer trained in the Air Force. I’m a consistent workaholic. I am a passionate entrepreneur. And, I’m an OJT CEO.

For the past year, our team has developed YouTern – an online community that connects emerging talent to entrepreneur-driven companies, through internships. We’ve accomplished a lot in 12 months; 90 days after Alpha launch we are grateful that over 300 companies now use YouTern to find great interns.

However, as a lot of you have likely experienced in your entrepreneurial endeavors…it hasn’t all been fun and fireworks. Now is a good time to reflect and share with you what went right, and what didn’t.

Since my first business at eight years old until today, I’ve always learned a lot more from mistakes than easy victories. So, here – from a non-Harvard MBA CEO that turned 50 two weeks ago – is a Letterman-style “Top 5 Tips for Start-up CEOs” (and others currently living on caffeine, adrenaline, and the support of damn good people around them).

5. “Be the Ball, Danny”

Find a Mentor. Cultivate the relationship. Communicate often. Bare your soul by asking good questions after checking your ego at the door.

For the past several months, I’ve relied on the counsel of a no-nonsense mentor who built a $75 million company. In retrospect, I should have started this priceless relationship much sooner.
Just for fun, see my favorite fictional mentor:

4. Build Your Advisor Team

Building a Board of Advisors seems like a low priority compared to developing a product, building your core start-up team, funding… and much more.

Had I taken the time to develop a diverse, enthusiastic team of advisors (like the team we have guiding us now), we would be months further into the execution of our business plan.

3. Build an Army of Interns

At some point, the workload becomes overwhelming. You’ll lay in bed almost nightly, thinking (while you should be sleeping): “If we had the manpower to do this, and that, three months ago…”

A year later, we built an army of interns. Youthful enthusiasm. Contagious energy. Technology-driven to the point of fault (and a great benefit to the company).
Our interns capably handle tasks (competitive analysis, web development, marketing, PR) they should have been handling quite some time ago – instead of me and my executive team.

2. Build a Good Business, Then Seek Funding

60-second pitch contests. Create pitch deck. Elevator pitch training. Another pitch deck. Consultants. Revise pitch deck. Practice to experts and investors. Revise pitch deck. More pitch contests. Web 2.0 experts. New Pitch Deck…

The time spent attempting to attract the attention of VCs was exhausting, and given the economic/investor climate, ultimately a waste of time (especially since the companies that won all those contests are still not funded). At one point, we caught ourselves writing website copy designed to impress investors… instead of our customers.

Stay focused. Bootstrap. Prove the concept. Get to revenue. Your success will draw the attention of Angel or VC investors.

1. Get a New Third Baseman

I’ve coached baseball since I can remember. Whenever I had trouble with a ballplayer (commitment, talent or attitude), parent (attitude) or athletic director/administrator (ego), I would explain that my job was to put the best team, with the best possible character, on the field. No one ever questioned that logic.

I did not take the same approach with my first “real” start-up. I let people that did not contribute – either in the “move us forward” or “pulling their weight” category – hang on way too long. The first red flag: more than one major missed commitment.
In the long run, the reasons – no matter how sincere – don’t matter and those “reasons” are perceived far more accurately for what they are: excuses.

Every chance you get, seek to upgrade the team you’re putting on the field.
I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done. I am also fully aware that we might be much farther along had I followed my own advice.

Even if it did come from a rookie CEO.

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Entrepreneurs – You Would Possibly Need To Drop Out Of College

Entrepreneurs – You Would Possibly Need To Drop Out Of College
by andreas on August 25, 2010

Young entrepreneurs and enterprise homeowners are often instances faced with the selection of which road to take. On one hand, there may be the more conservative route of staying in school and getting a degree. However, many have thriving companies which are making extra money than their diploma will ever get for them. Is college merely a hindrance? Or is it a invaluable useful resource that should be continued in any respect costs. Many school enterprise homeowners do not even understand they’ve the choice of dropping out. Figuring out this selection is there could be important to the success of their future business. In case you are in faculty and are an entrepreneur or enterprise owner you have to ask your self this question: ought to I drop out of college?

The reply to this question usually is available in many varieties from many different people. I used to be recently at an entrepreneurial conference and had the opportunity to discuss this matter with many wealthy entrepreneurs. The solutions I was getting from them have been vastly different from those that my household had given me. On the one side I used to be being advised that college is just useful if you are getting something out of it, and that if I used to be serious my companies ought to take precedence over schooling. From the household aspect I used to be being instructed to stay at school it doesn’t matter what, put education on the forefront – there will always be time for business and it will be good to have a safe backup. Each of those answers have their deserves, but which one is true?. It grew to become clear to me that it was my choice- not the other rich entrepreneurs, and not your family.

Why are you in school?This question is the fundamental aspect in the determination to drop out of college. Entrepreneurs must determine the reality of why they are in faculty before making a call to drop out. Some business house owners are in school as a result of their mother and father told them to go there, or as a result of they did not notice they’d the choice. Different younger entrepreneurs are in college because they discover the data invaluable and need to proceed learning whereas they increase their business. Much more still had childhood dreams of sooner or later being an engineer or architect and want to follow via with their early ideals. You need to answer this question truthfully and truthfully if you’re going to make a selection about running your online business full time or staying in college.

Why Do You Need to Drop Out?It is very vital to know exactly why you want to drop out. Many business homeowners and entrepreneurs have vastly completely different causes for dropping out of school and it’s key that you just understand yours. I’ve typically fielded this question in conversation, and many occasions a young entrepreneur will want to drop out of college on pure speculation. This is by no means a good idea and not using a solid business plan. I recommend having a solid business plan and a few backups within the least, as well as some plans for continued studying of enterprise skills. Dropping out is a risky decision – entrepreneurs will understand and easily settle for this fact. Understanding and accepting risk is part of being an entrepreneur and starting new businesses. I’ve also talked with many entrepreneurs who already have million dollar plus revenue, and are fascinated by dropping out in an effort to focus extra on their business. This occasion presents a wholly new set of questions. Whatever your reasoning just be sure you perceive and research your position.

Right here is the Secret to Making the DeterminationIt all comes right down to balancing the 2 sides of the argument. If you’ve found out both your causes for being in school and your reasons for dropping out and starting a enterprise, then you’ll be able to easily make a decision. The trick is to look at a list of each side: your reasons for being in college and your reasons for going out and becoming an entrepreneur. If both aspect has reasons that are not your individual, or that have doubt in them, then you will probably choose the other side. Right here is an instance situation, have a look at the two lists and decide what the coed should do.
Pupil A – Reasons to Keep in College:– My mother and father are paying for it, and they’d flip if I left– Everyone I know is in faculty, it could be bizarre to leave.– A level might give me some safety later on.

Student A – Reasons to Drop Out and Pursue Enterprise– I have a stable business plan and have been working on it for months– My earnings is almost half of my dad and mom already– Having more time to work on enterprise would let me increase sooner+

I feel it is fairly clear in this setup that we have an entrepreneur at heart. There may be doubt within the reasoning behind school, and he also doubts that he will even need the security of a degree. The second checklist is way more profound and certain. This pupil knows he shall be profitable as an entrepreneur and he only needs to construct his business more. There’s certainty and understanding in his tone. With this situation it appears very possible that the coed could be much better off dropping out of faculty and pursuing his business goals.
The case is nearly never as lower and dry because the situation above, most younger businessmen have way more sophisticated setups. Even with the problems, the top result’s all the time the same. Comply with the path that you are certain of in your heart. If you are an entrepreneur in the correct place then you will know exactly why you want to drop out and that it will likely be higher for you. Or, you’ll know that staying in school will train you more about business and allow you to grow sooner out of college. I will leave you with one final thing.
Take heed to your individual thoughts, and pick the trail that you already know is best for you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pitch Your Idea in 90 Seconds Contest

On October 8, 2010, the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Walker College of Business will host the annual “Pitch Your Idea in 90 Seconds” sponsored by 3tailer in Charlotte, NC. All Appalachian students are invited to submit a business idea for this event. The top 20 student ideas selected will be “pitched” in a 90-second speech to a panel of entrepreneurial judges. One student will win the $1,000 grand prize.

The second-place winner will receive $500 and the third-place winner will receive $250. Please share this information with everyone you think may be interested in this unique opportunity. Ideas can include non-profit ventures, socially minded endeavors, and classic business ideas.

Registration for the Pitch Your Idea Contest is available online now! Pitch Your Idea Contest Registration. 3tailer, LLC is a Charlotte-based company founded by Jon West and Chad Ledford, 2006 graduates of the Walker College of Business. The idea of 3tailer began while Chad and Jon were students at ASU.

They turned a $1,000 investment into a multi-million dollar company ( that now owns and operates more than 40 Ecommerce websites.The deadline to submit ideas is September 13. Call Julia Rowland at 262-8325 or e-mail with questions.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CMU student one of Entrepreneur magazine’s top five

Consumers who carry multiple credit, debit and rewards cards may jump at the chance to have an easier and more secure way to shop. This is the thinking behind Central Michigan University senior Daniel Pearson’s business idea that has landed him in the running for Entrepreneur magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2010.

Pearson's business idea for The Hybrid Card Company has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine.

“This is incredibly humbling to be a finalist in this contest,” Pearson said. “Money is not a huge thing for me, so it is the networking opportunities that are very exciting. It’s every entrepreneur’s dream.”

As a way to set a new precedent for corporate responsibility, Pearson would donate 10 percent of all transaction fees from The Hybrid Card Company toward causes such as those that would help consumers learn responsible credit habits, corporate responsibility and reducing corporate waste.

In 2008, Pearson created Pearson’s of Oakland County, a landscaping business, and recently sold it. The 21-year-old also is the founder and president of CMU’s chapter of collegiate entrepreneurs.

View Pearson’s profile, learn more about his business idea and vote for him through Sept. 10.

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Senior Accounting Major in the Running to BecomeEntrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2010

When senior accounting major Greg Waldstreicher entered Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2010 contest at the suggestion of a University of Maryland alum, he didn’t tell his family or friends. Other than his business partner Gideon Platt, a senior at NYU, he didn’t share his decision to enter with anyone, because the chances of becoming a finalist seemed slim.
But early this summer, 20-year-old Waldstreicher found out he was selected out of 1,000 entries as a Top 10 Finalist. He was asked to create a video about his entrepreneurial idea, and from there was selected as a Top Five Finalist. Now, it is up to a public vote to decide which of those five entrepreneurs should be the College Entrepreneur of 2010.

In addition to being a Smith School student, Waldstreicher is also part of the Hinman CEOs program at the university. Hinman CEOs is a living-learning program designed to place entrepreneurially-minded students from all disciplines into a single community. With their guidance and funding, Waldstreicher was able to create his company, DoseSpot, and his pitch to Entrepreneur Magazine a reality.

DoseSpot, which was founded in 2009, is an e-prescription system that allows medical doctors to connect directly with a patient’s pharmacy. Waldstreicher said he credits his father, who is a medical doctor, as the inspiration behind DoseSpot. His father knew about the kinks in the e-prescribing system and shared the complaints with his son.

“With health care reform, a big push is to create electronic medical records,” Waldstreicher said. “Included in the health care package is $44,000 per doctor to adopt these electronic medical records. So, the government is basically saying, ‘We’ll pay for you to do this because that is how important it is to us.’”

An element of electronic records, in addition to keeping track of patient visits, labs and X-rays, is prescriptions, Waldstreicher explained. Doctors write billions of prescriptions each year. To fill a prescription under the old system, doctors would call the pharmacy and leave a message, fax in a paper prescription or just give the prescription to the patient.

“The patient has to drive over to the pharmacy, drive home, do errands, come back. Their prescription may be ready, it may not be,” Waldstreicher said about the inefficient system. “And there were also the factors of illegible handwriting and human error contributing to the inefficient system. We decided there had to be a way to make writing prescriptions more efficient. The handwriting wasn’t working, the faxing wasn’t working. The calls to the pharmacy weren’t working.”

According to Waldstreicher, a significant amount of a physician’s staff’s time is spent dealing with pharmacies: “The pharmacy will call the doctor because they can’t read what he wrote. Then the staff has to find the doctor and the doctor has to call the pharmacy all over again. It is just so much wasted time and cost and effort and energy. So we said, ‘We have to be able to do something here.’”

Waldstreicher and Platt see DoseSpot as the solution to those problems. With DoseSpot, doctors can log in at their own computers and pick from an integrated drug system database which prescription needs to go to which patient.

“It’s not freehand typing,” Waldstreicher explained. “For example, if they are looking for Nexium®, they type in ‘N’-‘E’-‘X’ and all of the variations of medicine starting with those letters will come up. As soon as the doctor selects Nexium®, the available dosage will appear.”
That is important because another common problem with the old system along with illegible handwriting is accidental errors in the dosage prescribed. So, a busy doctor might prescribe 125 mg of a drug when the drug only comes in 100 mg or 150 mg pills. With DoseSpot, only the existing and available dosages available for selection, so there is less room for human error, Waldstreicher said.

He also explained that DoseSpot is very quick and easy for busy doctors to use, using the motto of “Click, click, prescribe,” to explain to potential clients the ease at which the application can be used.

“’Click’ meaning finding the drug and clicking on it. The second ‘click’ is finding the dosage and clicking on it. And ‘prescribe’ is just type in directions you want, and then it is done,” Waldstreicher said. “It’s just that easy. Our company really strives for great customer service and great flexibility.”

The idea of electronic prescriptions is not new; DoseSpot is just a new and smoother process for e-prescribing. For medical software companies that already have doctors using their practice management systems or their electronic medical records systems, but whose systems don’t have the e-prescribing component to them, DoseSpot is able to be integrated into their existing system. Then, their doctors can use the e-prescribing without even knowing it’s coming from DoseSpot.

And DoseSpot is certified by Surescripts, the nation’s largest network for electronic prescriptions. Surescripts has created the whole infrastructure for sending e-prescriptions back and forth. The certification is expensive, time consuming and the waitlist can be months, if not years, long, Waldstreicher said.

“Having a Surescripts certification gives DoseSpot a large advantage over companies still waiting to be certified. That is our pitch to our medical software companies,” he said. “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We’ve already done it and we’ve already been certified for doing it. Let’s just hook our application into yours and you save all the time on the waitlist and a lot of cost, rather than developing it yourself.”

Waldstreicher said that he is really enjoying running DoseSpot and that as a Smith School student as well as a Hinman CEOs, he is receiving great support from people at the University of Maryland, College Park: “This has been really cool and unbelievable. Between Hinman CEOs, Mtech and the Smith School, and everyone else who has gotten behind me, family and friends, it’s been so much fun.”

Waldstreicher has already won the UM Business Plan Competition for undergraduates and hopes DoseSpot will lead him to another victory in the College Entrepreneur of 2010 contest.
Vote for Greg Waldstreicher and his company, DoseSpot. Voting for the College Entrepreneur of 2010 contest ends on September 10.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute Success Story

(WEST OKOBOJI, IA) The Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute is teaching Iowa students how to succeed by offering a week of seminars, mentoring and networking with business leaders. One of them already has a head start on the competition.

"Because we don't have the option to not succeed.

"Tom Bedell co-founded the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute five years ago after decades as a CEO.

"Don't just hang out. Go for it.

"Now he's teaching the next generation of Iowa business leaders - 32 students from five state colleges and universities.

"It's those special people that execute the ideas that tend to be successful entrepreneurs," says Tom Bedell, Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute.

The institute creates friendships, relationships and mentorships to build student success.

"This week helps each of these students better clarify in their own minds, their own hearts, their own passions, this is the me, this what I want to be, this is what I want to do," says Bedell.

Nick Cash found his passion for computer programming many years ago.

"When I find a new idea, I need to kind of jump on it and go investigate," says Nick Cash, Book Hatchery Founder & CEO.

The UNI junior began designing websites in 6th grade and video games by 8th grade.

"Never in my life, up until this point, did I think, alright I'm 21, I'm going to quit my job and start a company," says Cash.

Cash is the founder and CEO of, helping authors publish books digitally.

"I really just like learning a lot of new things. That's what thrills me," says Cash.

The 21-year-old CEO is already a success story but he still plans to finish college and continue learning.

"The business side of everything is really what's new and so it's great to listen to everybody who has that experience," says Cash.

"You can take that energy and help share with them some skills and some know-how and some connections and all those kinds of things and they'll persevere," says Bedell.

Besides starting his own business, Nick Cash is also one of five finalists nationwide for Entrepreneur Magazine's College Entrepreneur of 2010 contest.

Learn more about Nick's business at

Vote for Nick to win Entrepreneur Magazine's College Entrepreneur of 2010 contest at by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at her on Facebook at

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