Growing My Business
Seventeen-year-old Anisha Musti started Q-munity with her cofounder, Pranav Nair, after attending a technology conference in Brooklyn, New York when she was just 14 years old. She learned about quantum computing, which is a complicated field focused on solving hard problems much more quickly than can be done with regular computers.
In the past, it was hard to enter the quantum computing field - and Q-munity is a non-profit organization working to eliminate this problem. Q-munity provides free courses to help businesses and individuals learn about quantum computing.1 These courses are accessible online and are open to people of all ages and backgrounds.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
My entrepreneurship began with finding an issue I was passionate about: quantum computing. I was so fascinated with the technology and jumped on any opportunity to get involved in the community. I attended several conferences where I noticed the lack of younger students in the field. It was my passion for quantum computing, combined with my community involvement, that spurred the idea to start Q-munity.
What is it like being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur has taught me a lot about myself and how to become more self-reliant. As entrepreneurs, we are faced daily with ambiguity. It’s not like school where the answer to a question is found in a textbook. There is no “answer”. You are entering uncharted territory and must be able to make your decisions and trust your gut. This taught me the importance of independence, but also the importance of a team who you can turn to for advice. It is impossible for me to have all the answers!
How has entrepreneurship helped you grow?
Q-munity has given me the chance to meet dozens of people from around the world to share our experiences in quantum education. These conversations and different perspectives on the industry have expanded my worldview on quantum. They have only made me more curious! I love digging deeper into the field after talking with others in the community. As I learn more, I love it more.
What challenges did you have to overcome as an entrepreneur?
At first, we struggled to figure out a way to increase our profits while getting our content to as many people as possible. Free content usually reaches the most people, which then has the biggest impact. It was very hard to find a balance that was profitable while having the biggest possible impact.2 We solved this problem by creating an active community where users could interact with others with a similar passion in quantum computing and get their quantum computing questions answered within minutes. We also started selling advertising space on our newsletters, Discord server [a community chat platform], and social media platforms. This allowed us to provide free content and expand our user base. This growth has also allowed us to make more money and have more impact.
What are some key lessons you learned as an entrepreneur?
Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. This should be done with caution, but it is worthwhile to invest in products that will make the organization more profitable in the long run. For example, we invested time and money on emailing services which helped us reach out to the quantum community and announce exciting events. This allowed us to gain attention around the world and it led to partnerships with other companies.
Save money! This seems to go against my first point about investing, but it is always important to keep most of your earnings in the bank. Definitely invest in products that will bring higher profits, but don’t overdo it. The market can change at any time, and your past fundraising efforts may not work anymore. Save money to prevent a sudden financial downfall.
Being an entrepreneur is difficult. As I previously mentioned, there are many times when you must deal with ambiguity and trust your gut. The initial process of getting a business started – building your first product, gaining your first customer, etc. – is the hardest. It is the time of the most ambiguity and the time when you will most likely want to quit. However, once you pass that initial threshold, it gets a lot easier. It is like pouring gas on a fire, as opposed to starting it from scratch.
2 For more information about balancing profit and impact, visit https://ylai.state.gov/3-ways-to-turn-a-profit-while-doing-good/.
What are some of your current entrepreneurship goals?
Students from over 30 countries have been able to access and join our community where they can get engaged in our events and our social media platforms. Ultimately, the vision for Q-munity is to make it the global hub that people rely on for quantum education. This means creating more courses and running more events to attract and educate people in quantum computing.
What would you recommend to other young entrepreneurs who want to get started?
Dive right in! It’s easy to overthink the small details and scare yourself away from starting your business. It’s even easier to quit in the early stages because your efforts seem to amount to nothing. Those first stages may seem to do nothing, but you have to take small steps to achieve a big goal. Once you set things in motion, the hardest part is over. If you have an idea, take action. Don’t give up until your idea turns into a success.
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