This semester, we hosted our first mentorship program, E@D Connect. Now that the semester is wrapping up, I spoke with one of our mentees, Alex Krakoski from Worthy Jerky, about his experience being mentored by Pam Silverstein.
What did you personally get out of this mentorship?
Pam Silverstein and I have spoken extensively about plans for Worthy Jerky’s expansion in the summer and she provided more background information about herself. I plan on working with her more through the summer because she has a lot of experience with team building and building positive team dynamics, which is incredibly relevant to any startup.
What are the top 3 struggles you’ve run into as a student entrepreneur?
There’s no avoiding the fact that my entire team consists of full time students. Cornell’s curriculum alone is very demanding and can be very stressful at times. Building a company from the ground up also requires a lot of time and energy, so striking a balance between school, business, and social lives has been the most challenging. However, the team is structured in a way such that we can divide tasks so it’s not too overwhelming for any one person.
It’s also tempting to try to please all of our potential customers at once. Everyone has their own “what if you did this….” idea, but it’s important to stay focused on our core competencies and only add things as it makes sense.
Making final decisions with potentially far reaching implications, especially when there is no set “right answer”, has been tough but as my team and I work together more, we’ve been getting a better sense of the overall brand image we want to build together. This has helped make strategic decisions much easier and we can work more fluidly.
What advice would you give to aspiring student entrepreneurs?
Although I am by no means an expert on entrepreneurship, I think that one of the most helpful things my team and I have done is we have not been afraid to try new things that may or may not work. The only way you’ll have confirmation that an idea works (or fails miserably) is if you put yourself out there. There is no shame in failure, only in not putting forth your best effort and making each experience a learning one. Reach out to professors, other students, or anyone else for help. You’d be surprised to see how excited people are to help you if you are polite.