My Path to Entrepreneurship
Unlike many students who apply to Babson College, I had no interest in entrepreneurship or start-ups when deciding on schools to get my MBA. In fact, the fact that Babson seemed so focused on just entrepreneurship was a negative point in my book, because I wanted to go to a school that would help me get a job at Apple, or Google, or a consulting firm like Bain – not a school that would set me on the uncertain path of being in some rag-tag start-up upon graduation.
As a matter of fact, it was not until I was on my way to Babson College last May (a road trip by myself from California to Massachusetts) that my attitude towards becoming an entrepreneur began to change. The moment was perfectly crystallized as I was sitting in an In-N-Out parking lot outside of Salt Lake City, Utah (the last delicious Double-Double I would have in a very long time) texting my best friend about Zynga’s latest acquisition: OMGPOP had just been bought for $180 million essentially for creating something as trivial as a “Pictionary With Friends”. I thought this was a preposterous state of affairs, because it was an idea that I could have come up with on the toilet that was worth a sum of cash that would have made a lottery winner jealous.
The wheels had started to turn and ideas began to flow through my mind (this happens when you are driving over 4,000 miles by yourself for a week straight). I followed the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch on Twitter, where I became introduced and immersed into the happenings of the start-up and business world. I began to register domain names as my ideas began to iterate themselves over and over in my head. I began to cross-examine my ideas from as many positions as I could imagine, and began to obsess about the details and how exactly everything would work.
At this point I was relatively sure that I wanted to give entrepreneurship a shot, but I was still too insecure to live without a steady income. As a result, I took a job as a restaurant manager. I was fresh out of undergrad with no real work experience, so I couldn’t get a “cool corporate” job (a phrase that I now realize is an oxymoron), but I did have experience working in a restaurant for several years. I remember when I quit my last job that I vowed never to work in a restaurant again, and it took me less than a week to remember why. However, they gave me a pretty decent salary, and I figured that I needed a cash flow for any start-up idea that I wanted to pursue, so I buckled down and dealt with having a job that I hated.
I lasted a total of five months before I finally called it quits about two weeks ago. I came to realize that I was in a fundamentally bad spot, doing work that I didn’t believe in, for a company that I didn’t have passion for, working under managers that I didn’t necessarily respect. I realized that I couldn’t do anything substantial with my life working in a large organization. I would never be more than a pawn…well perhaps I could work my way up to being a rook, knight, or bishop, but that chance that I would one day become the CEO would be slim-to-none. Yet, even if I did become the CEO of a large organization, what did it matter if it wasn’t one with products that I believed in and were truly passionate about? In the even rarer situation that I became CEO of a company that I believed in and loved like Google or Apple, it would never truly be mine; I would merely be at the head of someone else’s machine. Google would always be Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s and Apple would always be Steve Job’s. Finally, at that hypothetical point in time, I would most likely be old and tired, having lived a life building someone else’s empire – I would never be more than a glorified slave.
I never took we’ll to authority, or working for someone else, so I have decided now that this wasn’t a life that I was going to live. I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.
So this was a condensed story of how I came to be where I am today. I am currently a part-time MBA student who is working on his start-up “Pioneero”, which is a college-based network for creative people (specifically entrepreneurs, musicians, and filmmakers) who want to connect and see what others in their school or neighboring schools are doing. The website is currently under development, but you can follow me at https://twitter.com/Pioneeros!
I’ll end here with a quote that has most crystallized what I want and what i don’t want to do with my life:
“What kind of life did I want to lead? One I loved, one I was proud of, and one that made me happy? Or a life that other people told me I was supposed to lead…but I hated. What kind of person was I going to be? Just another sheep? Another cog in the machine, working a crappy job that I couldn’t stand? Or was I going to be the type of person who blazed my own trail and made an awesome life that I loved living? I realized I had a choice to make: I could swallow my pride, go back to the corporate machine, and try to be a lawyer or businessman, but this time make sure I acted like a sheep and did it their way…or do something where I carved my own path in life and didn’t have to eat anyone else’s shit, something I really loved doing. Looking at it that way, there wasn’t really a choice. I had to leave that world and go create my own life. It came down to one simple thing for me:
Every day I have to wake up and look at myself in the mirror, and if I’m not excited to live the day in front of me, proud of who I am and what I’m spending my time doing…then what’s the fucking point?”