Undergraduates Balance School Work With Managing Their Own Companies

Having a hard time dealing with academics? Classes can be pretty demanding, and often consume lots of time. However, Harvard students seem to always manage to fit a little more into their schedules. They participate in extracurriculars, perform community service and sometimes even run their own businesses.

Although many students plan to one day enter the business world, some students have gotten a head start by founding their own companies.

Starting a business may seem like a nearly impossible venture for a college student. However, according to the student owners, it is not that difficult.

"It's not as hard as everyone thought it was," says Joshua D. Kanter '98, who ran his own house painting franchise for two years that employed 15 workers. "Most people are scared of failing. I've never let other people's doubts stand in my way."

Kanter began his business by applying to a national franchising corporation which recruits college students. Originally, Kanter almost threw away the offer the company sent him in the mail.

"People told me it was a scam, but it's legit," he says. The company trained him and helped him with the logistical work.

Amar K. Goel '97, who started his own online golf store, agrees that it is not very hard to start a business.

"You just kind of jump in," says Goel, a Crimson editor. "A lot of the stuff is common sense. You know that you need to get something so you go buy it and you pay your bills."

Part of Goel's task in starting his business was creating an interactive Web-site that would serve his customer's needs.

"We sell all kinds of golf stuff, like clubs, balls and shoes from all the name-brand major retailers," he says. "We have a shopping cart system. You can move around the system and say 'I want these clubs. I want these shoes,' and send your order to us."

Why Start a Business?

Student entrepreneurs have different reasons for starting their own businesses. For one student, running her company is just a step towards a much larger goal.

"My vision is to have a significant impact on global education," says Lana Israel '97.

At the age of 14, Israel, who is a Crimson editor, started a company called Brain Power For Kids.

"It's devoted to researching, teaching and producing materials related to learning," she says. "It's aimed at anybody learning. Even adults use a lot of the materials."