How to Fuel Your Student-Led Startup: Best Grant Opportunities

How to Fuel Your Student-Led Startup: Best Grant Opportunities
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Being a student is hard, but starting a business while you’re in college certainly adds to the challenge. However, it’s absolutely possible and greatly rewarding, and you can access some fantastic grant opportunities. Many people think launching a student startup company is super tricky and almost impossible. Still, there are a lot of resources that make it achievable. There is support in the form of networking events and venture funds. You can also access business loans, crowdfunding, and bootstrapping.

It’s safe to say that thanks to these resources and the minimal risk involved, there are lots more student-led startups out there these days. In fact, around 1,500 universities have entrepreneurial resources for their students in some form, which is a 120% increase in half a decade. 

While most universities and colleges offer networking events, hackathons, and incubators, there are also many resources for specific students starting a startup in college. So, if you haven’t managed to get something from your campus, there are still ways you can get started.

Networking Events

According to the corporate communications section at LinkedIn, nearly 80% of professionals believe networking is valuable to their career success. This research also showed that 70% of people got a job in a company connected with an existing employee.

Anyone in any career can benefit from networking events, but this is especially true for entrepreneurs and business owners. There are often networking events that are designed with students in mind. They can get together with other entrepreneurs, community leaders, and investors. It’s at networking events that you’ll often find the best grant opportunities to fuel student-led startup ideas.

Students can benefit from researching networking events for entrepreneurs and startups in their communities. Even if these aren’t geared toward students, it’s still great to get advice from some of the most experienced innovators.

Grants also help students get a certificate from the university about annual leave or even a postponement of exams. While building a new business or promoting a startup, students do not always have time for full-fledged learning. In such cases, students can also search online for help with essays or research papers and check out the full picture of professional essay writing services available today. Since, most often, universities are interested in students developing their businesses, every teacher will support you.

Competitions with business plans

The number of business plan competitions around universities and colleges has increased during the last few years. These can lead to valuable introductions and publicity. There are even competitions on national and international levels like the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards and the International Business Model Competition.

What are business plan competitions?

These are contents between early-stage and startup businesses. The idea behind them is that participants compete to draw up and submit an idea for a business (or use their actual business plan) following the contest’s set guidelines. The start-up plans will be judged for things like feasibility, creativity, quality, and execution.

The competitions provide excellent feedback and funding for your venture too.

How do you fund business plan contests?

Searching on Google or another search engine will bring loads up. The competitions are often very different, so if you’re entering more than one, make sure you tailor your application to the contest’s specific requirements.

#1. Venture funds

Since many students choose to become entrepreneurs while still at college, there has been an emergence of investment funds with a student focus. Resources like Dorm Run Fund, a student-run venture capital fund, have invested in hundreds of student business ideas.

What are venture capital funds?

VCFs are funds of pooled investments. They manage investors’ money when they want to have equity stakes in new startups or small enterprises with strong growth potential. Typically, for an investor, student entrepreneurship venture funds are a very high-risk opportunity for an investor, but they often offer high returns.

#1. Crowdfunding

Another popular way to secure startup funding is by creating a crowdfunding site campaign. With crowdfunding, people who believe in your company’s idea or product can help to fund it. You can also offer a small gift when people donate to these sites. The good thing about donations to crowdfunding means you don’t need to repay them.

#2. Student loans

If you’re not already taking advantage of student loans, it might be a good idea to get one. Student loans are usually reasonable and fair in terms of interest rates too. Funding a business while still in college can also be done by securing a small business loan. Typically, these are hard to get, but if you have a sound business plan, collateral, and a good credit score, you might be able to secure one.

#3. Head to a bank

Once upon a time, banks were the only option for getting funding – and they’re still a great place to go. Make sure you research which banks are likely to give you credit. Check out their repayment policies, too, as interest can be eye-watering!

#4. Bootstrapping

Many people don’t advise bootstrapping, but it can be an effective way of getting funding for your startup. Essentially, you use current lines of credit, borrow money from family and friends, and clear out your savings so that you can afford to launch. This method works best when you don’t need a lot of capital to get started, and it’s also good for companies that expect to see a large profit soon.

Final thoughts

As we’ve seen throughout history, student entrepreneurs can make hugely profitable companies – take Bill Gates, for example, who never did return to finish his studies! Any budding entrepreneur should aim high, but they should also do their research well. Don’t just consider one financing option. Consider them all! Look into investment funds, loans, and bank credit to get you started. If your idea is really profitable and you know it’ll go places, you can even try bootstrapping to get you there. Don’t forget! There might be opportunities just around the corner that you’ve never heard of. Above all, network, network, network!

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