Most people view starting up a company as an elusive concept reserved for the elite few. There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about start-ups which prevents many students exploring entrepreneurship as a viable option. However, many students intuitively demonstrate a lot of the skills needed to run a successful start-up without realising it. In many ways, running a society is a lot like running a start-up. A lot of parallels can actually be drawn between being on an exec member of a society and being a CEO of a start-up.
A gap in the market
Most societies emerge as a response to a problem. Warwick has so many societies, this represents a saturated market which can be difficult for a new society to penetrate. Therefore, societies need to identify a gap in the market e.g. the SU, and the find a solution to it. For example, I was the President of the Law and Business society last year. The society started 5 years ago to rectify the issues most Law and Business students face being split between two faculties.
Warwick has so many societies, this represents a saturated market which can be difficult for a new society to penetrate
Likewise, all start-ups need to have a clear unique selling point, target audience and a way to stand out.
It all starts with a small loan of a million dollars
In addition, cash-flow is vital for any start-up to be successful so it is imperative that they have an ability to raise finances. It is all well and good having a good idea, but if they do not have enough capital to run their operations then it will most likely fail. Similarly, societies need to maintain a healthy balance sheet.
A lot of the ways societies raise funds are similar to that of a start-up. For example, most societies will draw up a sponsorship proposals creating bespoke levels of packages for sponsors. The proposal would outline what the society is about, what it needs and what it can offer. According to the package level sponsors choose, societies commit themselves to offering a variety of benefits such as displaying their branding on merchandise or hosting an event in their establishment. Start-ups will similarly attempt to raise capital like this through angel investors to whom they may offer a stake in their company in return for a sum of money.
Start-ups are often formed by a team of people who each with their own areas of speciality. There might more leadership or managerial roles, technical and creative people. They might approach problems in different ways, however, they all come together for a shared vision. Likewise, in a society there will lots of different exec member roles who focus on different things. For example, when I was President I was devoted to a bigger picture view of the society, focusing on making the associated degree course better and offering advice for applications and assignments for instance. Whereas, the Treasurer would work on minimising costs and the Social secretary on organising good events. Collectively, these people enable a society can run well and it is the same for start-ups.
They might approach problems in different ways, however, they all come together for a shared vision
Since starting a society faces similar hurdles to start-ups but in a more protected University environment, the skills students develop as team members of emerging societies may turn out to be more useful than they imagined.