by Bernard Sury, cofounder of GuruWalk
You still have some months left before graduating and they already ask you the big question: “so, what do you want to do now?”
And, you know, they would love to hear the perfect answer: “I just signed my contract at this major company”. Tons of job possibilities are indeed waiting for you, too many indeed and it’s easy to get lost.
But still, you’re not sure of this choice. How about joining a small company or better yet: a startup! Yeah, why not?
That’s exactly how I felt while I was desperately writing my master thesis. But you’ll see, most people will discourage you: “It’s too risky”. And they are often right.
Nevertheless, as I like to say ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ and the worst thing is to end up with regrets. For this reason, I want to share with you today my experience on how I discovered the entrepreneurship world and how, starting as an intern, I eventually became the co-founder of a startup.
Don’t forget, you’re going to spend most of your life working. So don’t wait. Find what you really like (and you’ll never work again!).
Working with startups.
Today, everybody knows what a startup is. But connecting with startups and entrepreneurs will give you a better definition of what it really means.
I was intrigued by the entrepreneurship ecosystem and wanted to get more familiar with this environment.
But I was just sitting on my chair writing my “lovely” thesis. Then it hit me, I needed action.
That’s why I applied and got accepted as a volunteer for a non-profit organization promoting social entrepreneurship in Brussels. We were helping many passionate people to start their businesses for the ‘good’, not just for the numbers, and it was very inspiring. I finally led a group project and I quickly perceived the challenges all kinds of entrepreneurs were facing.
I strongly recommend you to get involved in such organizations supporting startups. It’s something that will bring you a first approach to this world and you will easily find out if you’re made for it or not.
The international week that changed my life.
If you’re still a student, I encourage you to pay close attention to all the opportunities offered to you. Read emails sent by your University and subscribe to newsletters. They can be a true gold mine.
In my case, I had the opportunity to participate in an International Week in Spain about advanced entrepreneurship. I had different classes and met Juan Castillo, a serial entrepreneur who was about to launch a collaborative platform called GuruWalk.
And it resonates strongly with me. Why?
Well, at that time, I was working as a free walking tour guide in Brussels. And GuruWalk was a platform allowing anyone to become a tour guide and to be paid with tips!
For me, it was quite a fun way to earn extra money (way better than most student jobs) and I was practicing my Spanish as I was doing the tour in this language. I loved it so much that I was thinking about creating my own tour company.
Working for a startup: the internship opportunity.
I was back home and reality hit me hard. I was doing a double job as a tour guide and team leader but my master thesis was going nowhere. Life was quite crazy at that moment. It was time to get serious and put an extra effort to end my thesis.
During that time, I kept contact with Juan, giving me ideas to launch my own tour company in Brussels. We finally ended up with the possibility to do an internship for his company.
With my master thesis finally done, nothing was holding me back and I took a plane for Spain. GuruWalk had just launched the platform and I met the team: the 2 co-founders and the web developer. Everything had to be done and it was very challenging.
Remember when you have too much to study and you don’t know what to start with? Here opportunities and to-do lists were infinite and proactivity consistently remained the keyword of my internship. I progressively received a lot of responsibilities and felt like a member of the team.
Working in a startup: being co-founder.
Have you ever felt like you found the right match in your life? It could be about your job, a lover, a friend, a hobby, a sport… Well, in my case, being an intern at GuruWalk was that perfect match.
In fact, I was already acting as a co-founder without really being aware of it. So one day, few weeks before finishing my internship, I had this conversation with the team and I decided to join the core team officially.
As an intern, it was so satisfying and rewarding after these efforts, but for the team, it was just the natural thing to do. And that’s how I became the co-founder of GuruWalk.
As you noticed in this story, it took me some steps before working as an entrepreneur. Contact and connect with startups, see how they are working is the first step. Gain knowledge about it and develop your network is the second one. Finally, if your previous experiences pushed you to know more, join a startup or create your own.
Life is a succession of opportunities. Look for them and don’t wait for regrets.
And you, what’s your story? How did you become an entrepreneur? Drop a comment below!
Supporting startups in their development, Bernard Sury has always been interested in the entrepreneurship world. Just graduated in International Business, he took a plane to Spain where he’s developing GuruWalk, first as an intern and now as a co-founder of the company.