“How Millenials Are Sparking Change”: Five Tips For Young Entrepreneurs


Entrepreneurship is in.

That was the message from a town hall event this week at UT’s Student Activities Center. Co-hosted by the Atlantic, National Journal, Microsoft, and UT’s own IC² Institute, “A New America: How Millenials Are Sparking Change” drew about 100 students, nonprofit types, and Austin-area Americorps volunteers to the SAC’s Black Box Theater for a two-hour discussion of why 20- and 30-somethings these days are starting their own ventures in record numbers—and what that means for the future of the economy and business landscape.

Among the featured speakers and panel members were UT students, faculty members, alumni entrepreneurs, and more. While the discussion—moderated by the National Journal‘s editorial director, Ron Brownstein—ranged from the importance of volunteering to the scarcity of female CEOs, it was chock-full of advice for young people interested in entrepreneurship. We’ve distilled five gems for you below.

On the difference between “doing good” and “doing well”:

“This young generation cares more about doing good than doing well. Meaningful work is really important to them. And we’ve found that volunteers are 27 percent more likely to find employment. So go out and serve, because it will take you places.”

—Wendy Barchas, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service

On handling criticism:

“There’s an art in deciding when you’re wrong and when you’re right. I ignored a lot of advice … you need to tolerate criticism and decide how much of it is worth listening to.”

—Bob Metcalfe, Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise

On sharing nascent ideas:

“Don’t be afraid to share your idea early on. I think there’s this fear that someone will steal your idea, or it’s not good enough, but that rarely happens. The most important thing is to get it out there and start connecting with other entrepreneurs.”

—Grant Heimer, UT student and director of the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency

On how the web has transformed entrepreneurship:

“I think you can reach a global audience a lot easier today [thanks to the Internet] and as long as you have a good product and you stand by it and deliver what you promise, people will come to you.”

—Rudy Rodriguez, BBA ’75, Life Member, Managing Partner, Team Venti

On learning from failures:

“I started two companies that failed before Chi’Lantro took off. So I’m OK failing today and knowing that I could start something again tomorrow. You’re OK if you have that confidence and resilience to get up and try again.”

—Jae Kim, Founder and Owner, Chi’Lantro BBQ

Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Barchas, left, and the Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein take questions from the audience.

Photo by Anna Donlan.


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