Ever dreamed of starting or running your own business while in school? Our contributor Restaditya Harris (Resta) is a founder of a real estate consulting business and an alumnus of Cass Business School in London, UK. His experience as a studentpreneur could help you get on the right track of creating your own studentpreneur journey!
Studentpreneur. For many of us, this word might sound strange and unfamiliar. For the rest, it is not a new concept. You can try ask some of your friends or colleagues and a few of them might well be, or used to be, one.
Studentpreneur is a fancy term that is becoming increasingly popular to describe someone who is a student and an entrepreneur at the same time. That means they go to classes and run their business in parallel. Perhaps you are familiar with the story of some of the most famous tech founders in the country and abroad, who started their own business while still in school. While studentpreneurs can be commonly found among MBA or older students, it is possible for us to start becoming one early on in our academic career.
I am writing this article in the hope that it will inspire, or, at the very least, give you some practical hints about how to become a studentpreneur. Whether you have created your own business and want to keep it running, or you want to start your entrepreneurial journey, or you simply want to make extra cash while living abroad, keep on reading. I will share my experience becoming a studentpreneur while pursuing a master’s degree in real estate in Cass Business School – City, University of London, in 2018-2019.
I chose the program and the university because I believed I needed to upskill and build a robust foundation to support my real estate business. I started eyeing this program in 2013 along with the school’s MBA program. However, in early 2015 I started my own business providing consultancy services in real estate. Therefore, I ultimately decided to take on the real estate program instead of the MBA.
One particular reason why I chose Cass Business School over the other top schools was its prime location: London! To be precise, the campus is sat within the famous one-square mile of the City of London, where most of the financial institutions and high-profile businesses are located.
I had visited London twice before my master’s study and I could sense a vibrant life that is more or less similar to Jakarta. It led me to believe that studying in London could expose me to more opportunities that would be supportive of my studentpreneur journey.
On a side note, believe it or not, I also chose Cass because of their super cool logo. You should check out their famous crest: a red knight in steel armor and a shield!
Now, onto my studentpreneur journey. First, I must say that being a studentpreneur does not mean that you have to be physically there to run your business, especially in this day and age. The internet has changed the landscape of work and running businesses; it is possible for you to manage something that is thousands of miles away and seven hour ahead of you. Indeed, I could keep my business running while in London, not the least because I still got my partners working in Indonesia.
You might wonder what I could do to help the business while being away, given that I still had my partners back home anyway. It turned out that I could do a lot. As a founder of the business, I had the liberty to do anything that I believe could support it and help it grow from where I was.
For a start, I could help create presentation decks or perform administrative tasks comfortably from my room in London. I even managed to secure a deal without ever physically meeting my counterparts in Indonesia. How fascinating is that?
Second, I suggest you to have an open mindset about the concept of studentpreneur. Being one does not exclusively mean that you always have to find a way to keep your business running or create a new one while in school. There are other things you can do that might not directly impact your business, but will do so in some other, subtler ways.
I kept this simple principle in mind throughout my study: whatever I do today, I do it for the sake of the business, its future, as well as my own. This means that apart from doing actual work and helping my colleagues, I also kept my focus in school and studied hard. I believed that by strengthening my knowledge base, I would be able to become a better entrepreneur. Studying hard then may not turn my business into a success overnight, but it would contribute to its growth and innovation in the future.
I also encourage you to continuously seek new opportunities and push your boundaries. I did this personally by traveling. What does traveling have to do with becoming a studentpreneur, you might ask. Traveling is not only for fun; it also provides you with new experiences that can enrich your perspectives and inspirations that will feed into your creativity. I went to a total of 13 countries during my time in Europe, and I can tell you that it was well worth it!
Third, make connections and build lasting friendships. Frankly speaking, I observed that many Indonesians abroad tend to keep their circle small and only befriend other Indonesians. My best advice for you is to go out there and make friends with people from all around the world. Studying in an international metropolis like London granted me with this precious opportunity, and I decided to seize it.
Do not be afraid to go and socialize with your classmates in places that you have never been before or are uncommon in our country (my top tip: go on a skiing trip if you have the chance!). If you asked them, many people who studied abroad would say that the best thing they got out of their experience is friendship, and I honestly cannot disagree. Who knows a few years from now, one of your classmates will be your business partner or investor! Imagine where this international network will take you.
I hope this short piece can give you some inspiration and confidence to start your own studentpreneur journey. I look forward to sharing more of my experience, especially on how my effort as a studentpreneur has started to materialize show real potential. Stay tuned on this platform!
Until then, good luck on your studentpreneur journey.
Photos provided by author.