For some students, the idea of starting a business is too far-fetched. Others are sitting on the idea, and need a metaphorical kick in the behind to get them going. To help foster a culture of entrepreneurship, startups Pocketbook and Zookal have come together to launch a scholarship programme for Australian university students.
The primary purpose of the programme is to encourage students to see business ownership as a valued and rewarding career path, so that ideas can be transformed into something the world will find useful.
Many mistakenly believe that young people aren’t equipped with the qualities required to run a successful business – such as experience, skill-set, and patience. But they do have qualities that put them at a distinct advantage in the business world – such as energy, charisma, and the ability to bring fresh ideas into the world.
According to Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Silicon Valley accelerator programme Y-Combinator, young founders have plenty of strengths – stamina, poverty, rootlessness, colleagues and ignorance.
But the biggest advantage they have is their ability to absorb new knowledge with ease, and so nurturing their growth early on can only be an advantage.
On Pocketbook’s blog, it says that very few students pursue entrepreneurship because they think their tertiary degree will lay a pathway to a secure job.
“But we all know that’s not true anymore. In 2013, only 71.3% of graduates secured full-time work in Australia. As Graduate Careers Australia notes, “The figures indicate that the labour market prospects of bachelor degree graduates, which fell in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis and did not change notably between 2010 and 2012, have fallen again,” Bosco Tan, Co-Founder of Pocktebook says in the blog.
“To gain competitive advantage, some students get internships, which is great because employers expect students to have at least one internship before they graduate. But only half of them are actually hiring interns and fewer still hire their interns into full-time jobs.”
The philosophy underlying Pocketbook and Zookal’s joint initiative is “why not start your own thing?”
The scholarship is worth $1,000 cash from Pocketbook to spend on anything, and four textbooks worth up to $1,000 from Zookal. The main benefit is that students will be able learn all the intricacies of running a startup – and with $2,000, if they choose so, they can buy a domain and start their own website or register a company.
Vicky Lay, Co-Founder of Zookal, says the scholarship was inspired by the internal struggles they faced when they were launching the company. At the time, they were still University students.
“First of all, we wanted to convey to students that entrepreneurship is a real option and that you don’t need to necessarily take the corporate path in your career. Secondly, we wanted to eliminate what we feel is the next big roadblock faced by students trying to get a company started – money,” says Lay.
The scholarship programme aims to support entrepreneurial-minded students in the earliest stages of their business ventures. And even if it fails, Tan says “it will still make an awesome addition to your resume … employers look for students with entrepreneurship experience when hiring for entry-level positions (29% specifically look for it).”
He adds that they will be able to pass invaluable knowledge onto the budding student entrepreneurs.
“We believe what we’ve learnt over the past few years has been unmatched by any formal university education. And through this process, we can provide the financial and mentoring support they need,” says Tan.
Agreeing with the sentiment, Lay adds, “Besides the obvious financial benefits of the scholarship, we hope to provide students with a unique learning experience through mentoring, guidance and moral support. I don’t think Zookal would be here today if it weren’t for the experience-tested advice we received from other successful entrepreneurs.”
“On a larger scale, I think all student entrepreneurs will benefit as our aim is to spur a movement – hopefully this scholarship will sow the seeds of a wider spread community of support in Australia, much similar to that of Silicon Valley.”
The Pocketbook-Zookal Scholarship For Entrepreneurs is open to all students who are:
- Currently enrolled in a university course.
- Aged 18 years or older.
- Interested in entrepreneurship.
There are bonus points for students who:
- Have a startup idea they’d like to pursuing or are already pursuing.
- Worked in a startup.
- Shown some kind of interest in startups.
Grades, race, country of origin, age, gender or area of study will have no impact on who they select.
To enter, students need to write an essay (of any length) about “How I Hustled To Get What I Wanted” and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Students also need to be a Pocketbook member to enter.