Getting Aquainted with the Business World
Some people wonder how we got as far along with this business stuff as we have. I don't have a business background and, frankly, I found it uninteresting until last year.
I think it started last spring when I decided I wanted to focus on addressing societal problems via private business. Specifically, I wanted to work with education technology (EdTech) companies because I believe EdTech is the only way to provide access to high-quality education to people who need it the most within a reasonable timeframe. This was a drastic shift from my previous focus on policy. I found policy to be too slow and inadequate to make the substantial changes we need.
So I started thinking of solutions. Of course, nobody will take a chance on mere ideas in most scenarios unless it makes financial sense. We can't rely on beneficent philanthropists or government funds for everything. So I read my first business book last summer.
Then, while on an intern trip with LinkedIn, I struck up a conversation with an MBA intern and she suggested I check out an organization called InSITE when I got back to campus. It's an organization where MBAs and JDs consult for small businesses, helping them with tasks like market research, determining which companies to partner with, and so on. So last fall I applied to InSITE and received the happy news that I was selected to join. They only take about 20% of applicants and the program is only in a handful of universities (Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Penn, etc.), so it's an honor to be among current members and alumni.
I mentioned my interest in getting even more involved with business to one of my InSITE fellows, and she invited me to participate in MIINT, which is an impact investing competition. InSITE and MIINT have both provided invaluable insight into what makes businesses successful. As a bonus, my MIINT team was selected to compete at nationals, so I'll get to interact with even more business-savvy people when not presenting on stage.
I've also continued self-educating via books. I bought Marketing for Dummies and Product Management for Dummies and took notes as I read, actively thinking about how I could incorporate ideas from the books into Illustrated Law. I also subscribed to the Georgetown Start-Up Hoyas newsletter and have attended events that work with my schedule.
Finally, I've reached out to a lot of people for advice and feedback on everything from marketing, to my business plan, to our pitch deck. Here is the current list of who I've talked to (I can't remember some last names): Mark Silverman, Everett Bellamy, Meghan, Jeff Reid, Marc, Tien, members of the Georgetown Law Ventures club, Jamie Russo, Liz Albright, Kenny, Raj, Alan Zorofchian, Andrew Rosen, Peter Millin, and Andrew Sherman. It's an eclectic mix of people. Successful business leaders, partners at law firms, business students, law students, etc. Each person adds a unique perspective that helps make Illustrated Law better.
If I was going to offer adive to aspiring entrepreneurs, it'd be to seek advice and information from every source you can find. Be aggressive about it. People love to help people.