Back to School: The Reality Behind the Dream
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since I earned my MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. The resources, network and opportunities it offered in many ways helped steer me on my career path and to where I am today. Recently I was lucky enough to serve as a panelist in an alumni entrepreneur workshop that took place as part of last month’s reunion festivities. The session was called “The Reality Behind the Dream,” and it was moderated by my former classmate Lilac Berniker.
Starting a business from nothing and making it a success is in many ways what the American Dream is all about, though as my panelist colleague and “serial entrepreneur” Erikka Arone pointed out, how many of us are actually able to realize this dream? The process is a privilege, to be sure, but it comes with its fair share of sacrifice. We discussed some of the instances in which the lifestyle of an entrepreneur can be both a blessing and a curse. The decision to embark on the journey is one that takes a certain degree of planning and conviction. Two of the panelists, Korina Karampela, founder of b4iapply, and Manik Arora, founder & Managing Director of IDG Ventures, agreed that it’s vital to determine in advance how much you’re willing to lose both financially and emotionally.
That being said, the decision to found a startup is born of passion and optimism, and it’s important not to get too hung up on whether or not the timing is perfect, or whether you’re too young or too old, or whether you’re even qualified to run a business at all. Entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds have found success; there is no one recipe that guarantees you a win or a loss. Self-reflection is vital at all stages of the game—estimating the toll a startup atmosphere will take on your marriage, your kids, and yes, even your sleep cycle. The panel agreed that the biggest necessity for any entrepreneur is a genuine passion for the idea and a willingness to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. The victories that we cited, both big and small, from being acquired to simply finding the satisfaction in knowing that your product is helping real people, are worth it in the end.
The session can be viewed here in full: http://techtv.mit.edu/videos/24746-alumni-entrepreneur-workshop-the-reality-behind-the-dream