Tapping into University Talent
A number of you have asked how I was able to get 7 grad students (and 2 professors) working on the business.
The short answer is: seek and yee shall find.
The long answer is:
- Personal persistence - I located the students the old fashion way. That is, I went in person to the university departments that I thought might be able to help: Computer Science and Business Management departments. Exchanged contact information and followed up with a summary of cool projects for students to work on / learn from that would also benefit the company.
- Timing is important - I was aware that both UT and St. Eds had student projects and intern student programs. The key is to hit the departments at the right time -- when they are planning for the next semester of projects. Find this out for the departments that specialize in specific areas of your business. I failed to do this at UT and got nowhere with them (this round). If you miss the current gate, find out when the next one will come around.
- Know someone who knows someone - Fortunately for me, one of my advisors had engaged the St. Eds Capstone student programs in the past and thus put in a good word for my company.
- Meet with the professors in person to relay your needs and understand what project types might match their student roster - I met two for lunch and one in his office.
- Realize you are blessed - the fact that you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams means someone is watching out for you, keep the faith.
Once you get accepted into a program, manage it by setting a clear vision (easier said than done), communicate expectations, negotiate a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (a plan) with interim deliverables and stay connected with the student(s) via periodic communication.