Tips for student entrepreneurs: part 1

Here are 2 tips if you’re a student and you’re working on a startup idea, but you have (very) limited resources.

Disclaimer: always do your own research!

Tip 1: Test your hypothesis online

Why:

It’s important to validate your idea ASAP so you don’t waste time and resources on invalid assumptions. A great way to test your idea is to create a mini-website which we call a landing page (LP). This page contains your product/service and invites people that are interested in responding.

How can you drive potential customers to your website in a short period of time? By advertising your site on Google, you will receive traffic quickly. This will lead to actual data on the attractiveness of your idea and best case even to your first leads!

Steps:

  • Create a landing page (LP)
  • Find a free Google Adwords voucher
  • Create a Google Adwords campaign
  • Install Google Analytics
  • Evaluate results

How:

  • Create a nice LP. Use free stock images to enhance the look and feel. Some of the tools out there have decent templates you can choose from, so you don’t need to program a website. Make sure you end the LP with a call to action, like a contact form, which could lead to your first leads.
  • But what if you don’t have a product ready yet? Then try to emulate Kickstarter: show attractive images of a prototype (see the second tip in this article how to find a designer to create compelling mockups).
Example landing pages by Wix.com
  • Create a free account on Google Adwords. This is a way to advertise your website on Google. You select keywords and Google will show your website if people search in Google using that keyword. Google charges €x for each click.
Screenshot Google Adwords (Dutch version)
  • In the past, Google distributed free Adwords vouchers of €40-€50. You might want to check out if this is still possible. If you cannot find a free voucher, you can start with a small campaign (€25-€50).
  • Learning how Google Adwords works is pretty doable by watching YouTube videos.
  • If you’re willing to spend (a little) budget on paid advertising, you can also advertise on Facebook or Instagram. YouTube is your friend if you want to learn how to set up campaigns. However, depending on your product/service, using this channel might not be the most effective in terms of reaching your target audience (especially B2B).

Things to be aware of:

  • Whenever you collect data from website visitors, make sure you operate according to GDPR rules to avoid legal issues. This also includes whenever you install Google Analytics to track cookies.
  • Using a subdomain for your LP (example: studentstartup.wix.com) might look less professional towards your audience. It’s always better to have your website on a separate domain (example: studentstartup.com). This is often possible if you pay a premium fee.
  • Contact forms are quite vulnerable to spam mails, so don’t open every mail you receive without checking if it’s “real” of spam. Make sure you don’t click on any links in spam mails to prevent yourself from being hacked.

Tools to build an LP:

  • Wix.com
  • Instapage.com
  • Hubspot.com

Sites with free stock photos:

  • Pexels.com
  • Pixabay.com

Budget:

€0 if you have a free voucher. If not, you can try to spend €25 for a small test.

Tip 2: Hire a freelancer to build your prototype

Why:

Suppose you have an amazing idea for a revolutionary new app. Or you want to create an online platform using AI. However, none of your current team members is a developer (or a designer).

One solution you could consider is to hire a freelancer. Using Google you can find a ton of freelance websites. Via those websites, you can hire amazing designers, app developers or AI engineers at very affordable prices (€25–€200 for an assignment).

Screenshot Fiverr.com

How:

  • Go to a freelancer website (see links below)
  • Search for freelancers who meet your requirements (filter by budget, language spoken, number or reviews)
  • Select a couple of freelancers and start communicating
  • Negotiate about price and delivery time
  • Manage the process (check the deliveries of the freelancer and give feedback in time)
  • Receive the end result

Things to be aware of:

  • You only pay the freelancer if you are satisfied with the end result. Your initial payment is kept in custody by the platform until the work has been delivered.
  • On some platforms, unless you reject the delivery of the freelancer, your order is delivered automatically once the project passes the initial deadline. Therefore, make sure you accept or ask for revisions when you receive a delivery of a freelancer.
  • IP infringement is always a risk. On freelancer.com, you can ask the freelancer to sign an NDA. This will cost an additional small fee (around €30). On Fiverr, buyers are granted all IP rights (as stated in the T&C). However, be aware NDAs are no guarantee!
  • The quality of freelancers is very diverse. Try to find freelancers who have a lot of positive reviews and critically assess if they have a portfolio (and if you like it of course).
  • Be explicit about your assumptions and your expected deliverables. This helps to avoid a difference in expectations.
  • When you engage with a freelancer, you can learn a lot by the speed of replying and the way he or she communicates in English.

Costs:

(€25–€200)

Examples:

Fiverr.com

Freelancer.com

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These were just 2 small practical tips. Let me know what you think. More to follow!

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CEO/founder, Startup Coach Erasmus University & Radboud University, 2x FD Gazellen winner

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Maurice de Rochemont

Maurice de Rochemont

CEO/founder, Startup Coach Erasmus University & Radboud University, 2x FD Gazellen winner

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