I started a company a few months ago (NYC-based) and am now also working with a co-working space / incubator in London. I enjoy both and yet there’s this part of me that wonders if returning to University and completing a masters is something I’d enjoy more. The program I’m looking at is run by Aalto University in Finland - IDBM: International Design Business Management, which is run jointly by the business, science and design school. Take away: this has nothing to do with gaining experience or attaining another diploma, it’s about self-satisfaction (being challenged). I graduated from University a bit over a year ago and I miss the dynamic.

The Discovery:

When you’re at University, if you’re the type of student I was, you thrive on coursework discussion, hearing what others uncover and, my personal favorite, getting (and offering) a different viewpoint to that of the course readings and Professor. You don’t enjoy exams or tedious assignments but you endure so long as you’re being intellectually stimulated. There’s always that 1 class that you absolutely dread going to but can’t escape because you have to pass it in order to graduate - you get through it because of your classmates.I thought this would be part of the startup dynamic. Preferably with the dreadful-class equivalent being less likely to occur. However, I’m finding this is inaccurate.

When you start a company, when you’re around people who are starting companies, it’s like being at school. In stages.

You must conduct research, you attend lectures (events, business meetings),  you have classmates (if you have co-founders and / or are based out of a co-working space), and you get to participate in discourse, whether within your team or with people you meet along the way. This is the ‘like University’ bit. Then there’s the, You Have A Company - Time to Manage It bit, which involves tedious meetings, mediation, spending more time in the management of the business than in actually building it and executing deliverables. This is when the dreadful-class takes over and, sadly, it doesn’t finish when you’ve completed the final exam.


I’m not sure if others find this to be true. I might have selected the wrong field, maybe I need to move closure towards product development. The other aspect is that you meet with people who are, quit often, not very challenging. It becomes almost as if people have read the same articles, practice the same speech (with slight deviations) and are interested in attaining the same outcome from a conversation.Startup Live is less diverse than one would assume.

While everyone at University is working towards the same goal - graduating and getting a job - (if you go to a school with a diverse student body) everyone is different, an entire world in their own right, and everyone offers a different perspective. This doesn’t happen quite as easily or sporadically in the startup world. Perhaps more than Corporate but not to the same level as University.

For now, music and the occasional (always welcome) stimulating conversation, shall help me get through the days when I’m stuck in management and processes…

Rihanna - Cheers