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Starting a Company

  1. Feb 9, 2012 #1
    Hello all. I am interested in eventually starting a technology company. However, I have no idea where to begin learning how to accomplish this. Where would be a good place to start when attempting to reach this goal? Any books on the subject perhaps? It would likely be in the area of medical technology, since that is where my studies are heading. (an EE student right now)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2012 #2


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    Hey FluxFlowers and welcome to the forums.

    One suggestion I have for you is to get some work experience first.

    Find a place where you can rotate between the various departments, or at least an environment that allows you to work in a highly interdisciplinary environment.

    This is a great way to get exposure to all sides of the industry and understand the business dynamics. You will need to understand the whole process, especially the parts that are non-technical. You need to understand how the business and the markets are structured, what the clients are looking for, how all of the people get together, meet each other and make deals as well as all of the other book-keeping stuff that goes on in the background.

    The other reason to do this is to give you time to think about your decision to see if its what you really want. You have to realize all the support systems that exist both internally and externally to the business.

    One reason why I have mentioned this also is because of your domain. You are working with medical devices which require a tonne of capital both intellectual and otherwise (financial). For this you need to understand extra things on top of your ordinary business like the legal framework and regulations (since you are dealing with medical devices), intellectual property issues, and all of the other technological issues that come about.

    You could read a lot of books on the subject, but I have a feeling that it will not benefit you in the same way that work experience in a company that offers a rotation-based learning environment, or highly interdisciplinary work environment would.

    Also you should be aware that the average age for entrepreneurs is quite old (30's to 40's) so don't think you have to be the next Mark Zuckerberg because he is more or less an extreme outlier.
  4. Feb 9, 2012 #3
    What, may I ask, is your motivation for starting a technology company?
  5. Feb 9, 2012 #4


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    If you don't have a goal don't and don't understand how you might compete with other technology companies, you would just be setting yourself up for failure. Send me 1/2 of your start-up money, and you can keep the rest. You'll be ahead.
  6. Feb 9, 2012 #5
    @chiro- Thanks a ton. That is probably the best course of action. Experience trumps all in this world it seems.
    My motivation is to have creative control over what I do in my day to day routine. I realize its a bit idealistic, but I'm still in college and as long as I don't have a family to provide for, I'd prefer to dream big and try my hand in a high risk venture.
  7. Feb 9, 2012 #6
    Cool, I definitely don't think there is anything wrong with being idealistic, I would say that I think most of the innovators like Jobs, Gates, Zuckerburg (like chiro pointed out), etc. had their ideals like "in every home there would be a PC" or "making the world more open communication wise" or whatever.

    Just be cautious of how you might respond to reality not meeting those ideals one day since sometimes it seems good fortune only shines down on a select few.
  8. Feb 9, 2012 #7
    That's a bad reason for starting a small business.

    I've worked in a small technology start-up and in fact the CEO and officers often have very little creative control over what they do. You have to constantly answer to both funders and customers. There's an old saying "when I worked in a big company, I had one boss, but now that I have my own company, I have hundreds of bosses. They are called customers."

    Once you make enough money, you can more freedom to do what you want, but this is also true in large companies. If you have a history of high productivity then when you come up with a weird idea, then people will listen to you.

    The other thing is that most successful small businesses aren't technology, but rather bread and butter things like running a hotel or opening a pizza restaurant.

    Bad reasons for starting a small business are control and making money. Good reasons are personal challenge, personal satisfaction, and self-education, and also if you want to look at things from a "holistic" standpoint. If you work in a big company, you see one part of a large whale which no one understands completely. If you work in a small company, you can see how all of the different parts fit together.

    If you work in a big company, accounting will do payroll for you and legal will worry about business law. If you work in a small company, you'll have to understand the basics of payroll and business law (and neither is complex).

    Most entrepreneurs tend to be older. Once you have some savings and the kids are no longer kids, then you can do lots of risky things. The other thing is that a hero is a coward with no other options, and I've known a lot of successful small business owners that started their small business out of desperation more than anything else.

    As far as what to do, this is one of those things where there is no cookbook, and you just talk to people that have done it before, and figure out what to do. Network. Network. Network. Talk to alumni. Visit the chamber of commerce. Join the MIT Enterprise Forum (which is open to non-MIT students). The two things that you need is capital and customers.

    The legal parts are pretty simple (i.e. set up payroll, get some accounting software, file incorporation papers). Go to a book store and buy the Nolo Guides. One thing that you'll find is that government bureaucrats and tax officials are very helpful.

    It's also a good idea to talk to people that you know that have opened small businesses (i.e. I know a lot of people that own Chinese restaurants) since a lot of the skills that you need to run a restaurant are the same as those to run something in technology.

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  9. Feb 9, 2012 #8
    Starting your own company or working in a startup requires this weird mix of wild-eye idealism and hard-nose cynicism.

    Very few people make a ton of money with their own business, but the number of people that manage to make enough to support themselves isn't that small.

    One other piece of advice is to physically move to where the action is. Once you work in Austin, Texas, for example, you find out *why* there are so many start-ups there. It's like good barbeque, there is a lot of "tacit knowledge" on how to set up a start-up.
  10. Feb 10, 2012 #9
    Are we talking companies or startups here? A startup is a company, but not every company is a startup. And there is a HUGE difference between a regular company and a startup.
  11. Feb 10, 2012 #10


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    Absolutely agree with this but there are a few comments I would like to make.

    One, judging from the OP he has not had any experience in the field at all. On top of having no experience in the field he has had no exposure to the non-technical sides of the industry which include things I mentioned in an above post.

    So although there is a completely different mindset needed with a different approach for starting a startup vs running an established business, the OP would still benefit crucially from getting some real experience in a company of some sort (one that allows the OP to get exposure to all areas of the business) and building up the necessary skills and assets before going it alone (i.e. startup).
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