Don’t Give Up Your Start-up Dreams for Studies or Vice Versa

By the SMU Social Media Team

For every self-made billionaire like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson who famously ditched a college education in pursuit of a ground-breaking business, there are plenty of other visionaries who attributed a lot of their success to higher learning. Even Jobs admitted that he learned more about generosity in college than anywhere else in his life, and that the required courses he detested helped him throughout his life.

Now, budding game-changers do not even have to choose between running a start-up and pursuing a degree with the Entrepreneurship major offered by SMU’s Bachelor of Business Management programme. It is created for undergrads to learn about creating new businesses through a carefully curated programme of electives, entrepreneurship study missions to places such as Silicon Valley, and the entrepreneurship practicum. The practicum even allows students to launch a new venture during their time at SMU, assisting to identify and connect them with external mentors to provide much-needed advice for starting and sustaining a new business.

But that’s not the only reason why aspiring entrepreneurs will feel right at home at SMU. The university’s Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (IIE) has been providing support for innovation and entrepreneurship-related activities across all the schools at SMU, with activities that include study missions, internships and a full-fledged incubation programme to help entrepreneurs take their ideas to market.

Next big things in business can also enrol in Eagles Inc, an SMU entrepreneurial ecosystem that facilitates the execution and growth of business ideas for students. In fact, recent SMU graduate Joshua Chan, a member of Eagles Inc and the IIE business incubation programme, founded an automated itinerary planner business Tripbunny during his uni days.

Joshua Chan

Source: LinkedIn

“Being in the School of Information Systems, I was fortunate to be able to keep in contact with professors who had vast experience in the tech industry,” says Joshua, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Information Systems) in 2017.

“They were very supportive in my entrepreneurship journey and always willing to help with problems that I was facing.

Apart from skills, SMU has a couple of channels that really helped in my entrepreneurship journey. Eagles Inc, as well as the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, are fantastic organisations that connect people with the same entrepreneurial mindset together. This ecosystem provides a platform for constant learning which is highly critical in this industry.”

While it might be an advantage to run a business after gaining experience at more established companies, young entrepreneurs have a stronger grasp of trending ideas and tend to be more sensitive to the latest innovations. That said, juggling a full-time business with tertiary studies isn’t for the weak-willed as both require plenty of effort and energy.

“Time management has to be one of the greatest challenges,” says Joshua.

“You have to spend time building your business as it is in its infancy stage. In order to balance school and business, I strategically chose modules that would not only increase the network of people I could potentially collaborate with, but also modules that improved the skills I needed to run my business better.”

However, armed with the right infrastructure and gallons of coffee, having the best of both worlds might just be too much of a reality for some.

“There would definitely be sacrifices made along the way,” cautions Joshua.

“You have to be very clear on what you want to achieve in the end. Be very sure it is the path you want to take. It is not an easy road, but the things you can learn and the joy of building something you are passionate about will pay off in the end.”

And even if things don’t work out, your degree would give you the mileage to find your feet and start again—now with more experience under your belt!


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Join our undergraduate programme today. 


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