Engineering · Startups

Should I start my startup as fresh graduate engineer or get few years experience?

Omkar Palkar Engineer at Whirlpool India (New Product Development)

March 31st, 2015

I am a fresher mechanical engineer from india currently working as R&D engineer in an US based MNC. I want to start my own enterprise. Should I start it right away or should gain couple of years experience in current organisation?

Alex Eckelberry CEO at

March 31st, 2015

What's more important is your drive to succeed. If you have a dream and a vision, get out there and do it, don't wait for a better time. You have this fabulous gift: youth. You have tons of energy to pour your heart into an enterprise. You probably aren't tied down with numerous commitments. You have a freedom older entrepreneurs don't have. So use it! It's an incredible asset.

You may fail because of your lack of business knowledge. Fine. You'll learn and become better. If you're a solid developer, you'll never have a problem getting work.

I am currently on the board of an incredibly successful company. It was started by a 19-year old who is now 25. He actually went to college while running the business. 

Why wait to do something that you want to do now?

All waiting will do will give you reasons not to do it.  You can learn a lot on the way. Read my blog, it has lots of insights for new entrepreneurs. And read the blogs of other entrepreneurs. Go for it.

Corey Butler Entrepreneur, Consultant, & Web/Data Engineer

March 31st, 2015

I started my first company in college, and it was a good learning experience. The business was great for building up my resume and bringing in side income. It was a struggle though, balancing time and school. The most valuable part of doing it during college was learning the differences between academia and real world experience. I remember very specifically getting a question wrong on one of my exams where the professor asked if it was cheaper to handle payroll manually or via an electronic system. I answered "manual" while the expected answer was electronic. With fewer than 5 employees or for part time employees, you cannot leverage volume to reduce your costs, and electronic systems like ADP actually cost more in small volume. My balance sheet contradicted the lesson.

Ultimately, I took a job in the corporate world and kept my business running on the side.  I learned about a lot of real world issues. In fact, some of my best ideas came from experiencing firsthand problems in the corporate world. I used those ideas, pivoted my business, and ultimately left my job when the business proved fruitful enough to sustain myself. 

Fresh out of school is usually the time in your life when you have the least responsibilities, but also the least amount of money. It might be worth creating a starter business to learn the ropes. If you do take a job, it's worth considering a job at a startup.... observe how they've succeeded.

Best of luck

Retail Tech Founder

March 31st, 2015

Start your startup when you literally can't imagine doing anything else... when they idea of it keeps you up at night and seeps into every thought you have during that day, and you know you MUST start it. Carrie Mantha Founder/CEO, Indira Collection @CarrieMantha Indira Collection : Fall in love with affordable custom couture Sent from my iPhone, kindly excuse typos

Grant Sernick Co-Founder at LoyolyPRO

March 31st, 2015

Hi Omkar,

I, too, was a mechanical engineer out of school, and have always been pretty entrepreneurial.  I'm now the founder of LoyolyPRO, and have 3 kids and a mortgage.  As with all the advice you get here (including, and especially, mine) read it, digest it, and then figure out what is important to you.

There are MANY pros of starting your own company out of school, and also many cons.  BUT, there are many pros and cons with waiting.  There isn't a right answer.  Let me try and detail some of the important things that you want to consider.

Starting a company now:
1) You don't know any better, and so you aren't hung up on things that others tell you you can't or shouldn't do.  You will just do it.
2) You are young.  You can live with your parents.  You don't need lots of money today.  (This becomes a problem when you have kids and a mortgage.)
3) You have energy...lots of it.
4) You will likely fail.  You will get battle wounds.  You will survive.  You will learn from your mistakes.  You will take another shot, and you might succeed.  Or maybe not.  But you will take another shot.  There is no way you can learn as much as quickly as if you were working at someone else's company.  It's a brutal journey, but you will be better for it.  
5) When you go work for someone else's company, they will pay you fairly well, and complacency sets in.  There is more at stake for taking the leap, and you might not.  
6) You will get married.  Your wife will provide many reasons not to do it.  A steady paycheck is a wonderful thing.

Starting your own company later:
1) It's good to learn and make mistakes on someone else's dime.
2) Becoming an expert in something is important.  Figure out what you like to do and become an expert.  That will give you many ideas on what to do in the future.
3) You will meet people and build connections.  Starting your own business is a lonely venture.  You can meet some amazing people that will help you along your way.
4) Starting a business with a steady paycheck is a good way to go.  Only once you get going sufficiently do you need to make the leap and go full time.
5) You can save some money.  This is REALLY important.  One of the biggest challenges new companies face is under capitalization.  Making sure you have sufficient money to fight your fight is important, and allows you sufficient runway to make mistakes and continue to revenue.

Hope this helps!


Gaurav Garg Vice President

March 31st, 2015

In my opinion, the answers depends on multiple factors. I tend to make a list of things that I will get from any endeavor. In a job, you are learning on someone else's money while if you start a business, you will need to learn on your own money.
1. Network of contacts (suppliers, distributors and most importantly competition).
2. Humbleness - you will learn to be turned down. As an entrepreneur, you need to sell your services/products. You have to force yourself to talk to other people and learn to take 'NO' for an answer. 
3. Customer decides if you are good enough or not. You need your customers to pay your bills.
4. You need help from others to build a business, even if you are the smartest person in the team. This means, you need to learn to share and trust others.
5. Businesses need to evolve with the market needs. Change or become irrelevant.
6. Money is a real thing. It is needed to pay bills and team members. (I contradict it later).
7. Risk and rewards are linked. An employer is taking the highest risk (their house, their family's future, her time with the family). 

I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. As the Eastman Kodak company changed, my father had to revamp our family business three times. I had the opportunity to experience the highs and lows first hand, by the time I was in high school. If you had the opportunity to learn from your family or friends, you are already ahead. 

My dad taught me the most important lesson - "Businesses need to provide value to its customers. Profit is a score keeping mechanism. " It is a privilege to get up in the morning and talk to someone and solve their problem. Customer can go elsewhere with their money. They don't depend on us, we depend on them. The customer is the king! 

Best of luck!

Lauren Foster

March 31st, 2015

Get experience first. You may be technically ready, but not for the business portion. Watch, learn, experiment, and grow. Diving in is a lot of risk without vision. If you are asking this, that means there is no burning problem you want to solve. 

Pablo Fernandez Founder at Digital Possibilities

March 31st, 2015

From my own experience I would recommend you to start right away. You won't be afraid to fail, you won't even call it a failure.
Once you get use to an organization and a paycheck it's harder to go back.
I wish I had spent a couple of years after university without any income and building my company. Now it's much harder.
Just make sure you have a plan with clear milestones and you work hard to avoid loosing your time.

Andrew Lockley Investments & consulting for tech startups

March 31st, 2015

Both. And ideally get a desk and some cash from the employer. Even an intern if you can get away with it.

MaxBlox/Founder Institute Director, Chennai Area at The Founder Institute

March 31st, 2015

Do both. Figure out what type of business you want to be in, then find a job that specifically will give you domain experience and connections in that business. Work on your business on the side, while the job gives you the money to survive and a cash cushion.
While working at your job, build a prototype and recruit two more founders. Strike out on your own in about two years.
You will have a prototype, partners, cash and some connections. Your chance of success now becomes tremendously better.

Daniel Ice

March 31st, 2015


Choosing to work for someone else and gain experience is a great thing, but some have the ability to jump into the deep end of the pool and swim. I think the key to understanding which path to take depends on your goals. If you want to be a founder then I think these are the skills and lessons that you should be looking to develop.

1. Building a team. Assuming that the problem you are trying to solve is bigger than you, you will have to build a team. This is a skill that is hard to develop without having been part of a team.
2. Building a product. You have to be able to build stuff. You can learn this in school and refine with practice. This is something you can do right out the gate, but working with others that have shipped a lot of product can greatly accelerate and help you to avoid common pitfalls.
3. Learning from what you ship. Once you ship you have to be able to learn from the feedback you receive. The feedback will often be contradictory. It is your job to be able to parse, classify and digest the feedback. For the most part being able to contextualize the feedback in the context of the person giving is very helpful.
4. Understand the value of experience. The thing about experience is that it always holds the promise that the next time around will be easier or you will execute better. That is only true if you have built, measured and correctly learned. It is also only true if you are approaching the same problem a second time.
5. Be an expert learner. You have to be able to learn very quickly from all sources: people, books, blogs, mentors, etc. You also need to make build a practice of regular learning.

Let's take this post as an example and work through the criteria above. You have shipped a product (your question). The product received feedback. Now you must learn from what you shipped. Some of the advice is contradictory. How will you resolve the conflicts?

Daniel Ice