1st Job Out of College: Should You Start a Company?

I caught up this week with a friend of mine.  He’s a serial entrepreneur and has been hanging out at MassChallenge.  During our discussion, we talked about when it’s right to start a company?  Should you start one right after college?

He’s of the opinion that you should not do so right after school.  He thinks instead that you should instead join a start-up and learn “on someone else’s nickel.”

All things being equal, I’d agree with that. I think very few people can have the rock star idea straight out of school and form it into a real company with legs.

I think the most important asset you can develop coming out of college is a great network. And, if you can join a company that is already filled with great founders who are able to attract great people, you’ve now built a network for life.

I think of our company Boundless Learning and the amazing team they’ve built there quickly. Same for Shareaholic, Cloze and so many others. These are founders in their 20s and 30s, but who already have great reputations and incredible street cred.

People from those start-ups will eventually start their own companies. If you do a good job, they will then pull you to their start-ups. And, so on, and so on.  This is great advice that the first Amazon CFO gave to me when I was much younger, and I still think it holds true for most people.

Of course, if you have a great idea out of college and feel compelled to give it a go, you should try.  Just have a Plan B ready.

2 thoughts on “1st Job Out of College: Should You Start a Company?

  1. Jo,

    As someone who is coming from that very position, I would add something else to your observation. In addition to your ability to build an incredibly useful network of people you accomplish two things; first, you really learn and hone your skills. Being a sales professional, I am incredibly fond of learning as much as I possibly can about sales. Some of it I practice, some of it I wholeheartedly disagree with. However, I am of the firm belief that we are always learning and that nobody has ever fully “arrived” at the pinnacle of their expertise. Thus, it is prudent to learn from those who are building a successful company.

    Secondly, you get an opportunity to learn from their decisions. What worked and why did it work? Was it luck? How do they find new customers? Why did a certain idea fail? If you are focused enough to pay attention to all of those details, I believe it can greatly increase your chances of success when you eventually start your own company!


    Kyle Van Pelt

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