Interacting with Entrepreneurs 101

By Michaela Day

Being a computer scientist in a room filled with entrepreneurs is a fascinating experience. The role of a programmer is often to look at a task and break it down into the smallest of subtasks and ensure that everything works together like clockwork. From this zoomed-in perspective it can be a huge culture-shock to find yourself in an environment where huge ideas and concepts are constantly being thrown around and discussed, sometimes to the extent that it feels as though you are on a different planet entirely. It has now been almost a year since my partner and I won an in-degree pitch competition and were introduced to the world of entrepreneurs. Through this wild learning curve I have found three key pieces of advice for anybody who is entering the world of entrepreneurs for the first time:

1.There is no such thing as a small question.

When asking an entrepreneur a question, expect to be answered with more questions instead of the direct answer you were looking for. Entrepreneurs have the ability to see things from a bigger perspective and as such, any one question is going to lead to others. In an environment where creativity is rampant, prepare to be asked about options that you may not have even considered before. Be open to the feedback you receive and don't be afraid to explore the new paths that were opened up to through these interactions. You may make discoveries that pivot the direction of your product or service.

2. Take advantage of the inherent network of relationships.

Do you need to make a key contact from another industry? Whether you are looking for industry information or potential customers, there is a good chance that somebody knows somebody else whose cousin works in the field that you're interested in. Entrepreneurship has a diverse reach into many different industries meaning that the individual you have been looking for is probably closer than you expected. Don't be afraid to ask your fellow entrepreneurs for recommendations and you'll have the key contact you were hoping for in no time.

3. Realize that you have something to offer too.

When you are surrounded by individuals who are, for the most part, experts in the field that they want to enter, it is easy to feel out of place. However it is important to remember that everybody has gaps in their knowledge. Each individual brings something new to the entrepreneurial community, including yourself. As a programmer I am often asked questions about designing and hosting websites and the feasibility of developing an application for a mobile phone. While I may not be a veteran on the ins-and-outs of the marketing, I still have valuable information that I can share with my colleagues, making me just as valuable an asset to the community as the next individual. Take confidence in the fact that you belong.

Watch Michaela pitch Little Blue Cloud on April 5 2016 during the JMH $60,000 LaunchPad Pitch Competition. Free registration here: