While the goal of most prospective bootcamp students is to get hired, a growing number of students use the experience to launch their own ventures. Here at SwitchUp, we’ve seen several companies get their start at a bootcamp, and startup-focused programs like Le Wagon are becoming a popular option for entrepreneurs.
A bootcamp can be the perfect environment for those who have an awesome idea and need the coding skills necessary to get it off the ground. If this describes you, then you’ll want to find a program that is a good fit for the unique needs of a student entrepreneur. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get started:
Make A Plan
Make sure you are prepared to go from bootcamp student to entrepreneur without a hitch. Once the bootcamp starts you will undoubtedly be busy, so use the time beforehand to make a plan for your startup. Start by creating a clear product vision: Research the industry you’ll be in, and know how the skills learned at the bootcamp will help you get going.
Next, create a list of goals that you would like to achieve during the program. Maybe you hope to find a co-founder or build out a team of people in the bootcamp. Perhaps you’re looking to build an MVP or a fully-functional prototype and pitch it to investors. Your goals will be a benchmark for your success, and keep you focused.
Learn from The Best
Many bootcamps give students plenty of opportunities to learn from industry professionals, mentors, and successful entrepreneurs. Look out for after-hours events with guest entrepreneurs and industry professionals. Le Wagon, for example, regularly hosts the Le Wagon Talk series, in which entrepreneurs and other important players share their successes and failures.
After a long day of coding, you may be tempted to skip these events. However, we argue that such events are especially important for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. You’ll get a chance to network, and you’ll leave with valuable advice from experienced professionals.
Focus on the “Soft Skills”
Coding is only one of the skills necessary to launch a successful product. As every entrepreneur knows, it’s important to hone your “soft skills” like project management and communication. Fortunately, a bootcamp is the perfect place to practice. You’ll learn the best way to work with a dev team, manage your time, and present projects. While at the bootcamp, take every opportunity to improve these skills. Offer to take the lead on group work, or be the person to present to the cohort.
You’ll have the perfect chance to showcase your new coding chops, team management skills, and presentation skills during the final project. Many bootcamps invite potential investors and employers to final presentations, so make sure you put your best code and presentation skills forward. You may land an opportunity you didn’t expect.
Get Help from Your Bootcamp
Your most valuable resource will be the bootcamp itself. Make it clear to your career advisor, mentors, and teachers that your goal is to start a business after the bootcamp. They’ll be able to connect you with additional resources, and point you in the right direction.
For more tips on how to make the most of your bootcamp experience (whether your goal is a career-change or to start a venture), head over to SwitchUp.