From academia to founding a startup: five tips.

Thinking of leaving academia to become an entrepreneur? Here’s five tips to improve your chances to succeed.

Take classes, while you can

While in grad school, you may have learned ethnography methods and Principal Component Analysis. That’s great but now it’s time to learn about cap tables, series A, and convertible notes. Ok, you could read blogs and watch Silicon Valley. But if you’re still associated with an academic institution, you have access to a range of classes you may find useful. As a postdoc scholar, I sneaked into classes at the Harvard Business School and attended many evening events at the Harvard innovation lab. They helped a lot.

Be professionally pushy

The biggest remark investors and other entrepreneurs had when I first started pitching was that I was a bit too naive and timid. I was asking, instead of taking. Scientists are notoriously bad at marketing themselves and their research. As an entrepreneur you have to sell your founding team and an idea. You may not acquire all the tricks of sales overnight, but at the very least learn to be pushy, in a professional manner.