According to a report from the United States Department of Labor, businesses that are under one year old contributed three million new jobs to the American economy in 2015. With more established businesses like Google also seeking entrepreneurial talent, it’s no wonder that entrepreneurs are widely considered key drivers in the economy.
What makes someone entrepreneurial? Cornell entrepreneurs, like SnappyScreen CTO Alex Woloshin (‘14), have a lot to say on this topic.
“You have to be adaptable,” Woloshin explains. “You have to be willing to take on new challenges and learn new things on your own. Being a self-starter is very important in an entrepreneurial environment…For example, at SnappyScreen I have learned how to build a website as well as learn about the engineering process behind the product.”
Girls Mean Business founder, Beverly Wallenstein (‘16), has found perseverance to be the most important quality for an aspiring entrepreneur. Girls Mean Business organizes workshops to educate young women in business, yet the journey to success proved difficult. Creating early momentum behind events was one of Wallenstein’s key challenges; however, she overcame it by staying true to her mission.
“There are so many problems and obstacles that I have to overcome when I am trying to run the business based on my vision for it,” Wallenstein says. “It can be frustrating to not have enough people sign up, but at the end of the day, it is also very rewarding to have the girls who do sign up become excited about business and end up wanting to be entrepreneurs.”
Utthan and Patuka founder Shaibyaa Rajbhandari (‘18) adds that a good entrepreneur is committed to creating change. In Rajbhandari’s case, outlining specific projects for her efforts to empower people in Nepal has given her additional motivation to strive for success.
Rajbhandari confirms, “When I wrap up a project, I don’t want the happiness to be temporary but something more long-lasting. That’s how Utthan was for me, and I hope to achieve a similar concept by establishing the training center with Patuka. I want my impact to be sustainable and that is how I will be content.”
While each of these skills has benefited these particular entrepreneurs and many like them, others argue it’s important to keep in mind that any skill can be useful depending on the objectives of the venture. Cornell eHub Director Peter Cortle holds this as a core belief and used it to create StartupTree: a platform designed to manage, track, and support university entrepreneurship.
“StartupTree helps to organize the chaos of being an entrepreneur,” Cortle notes. “‘[The entrepreneurial] journey can lead to so many different paths, and our job is to provide the right information and support system along the way.”
Despite the “chaos of being an entrepreneur,” all entrepreneurs seem to have one trait in common: they love what they do. Jeffrey Ly (‘16) of XBoard summarizes, “The thing that drives me is the joy and challenges that come along with the experience. Being able to develop new ideas, make new connections, get feedback, and work with a team. It’s like a mini-family to have the relationship we’ve built.”
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