It’s amazing what ideas people can come up with while taking public transport. Harvard students Vivek Ramaswamy and Travis May were sitting on a bus together on a trip in Beijing when they began talking about the obstacles that students faced when trying to start their businesses. Both of them, who were active in the undergraduate entrepreneurship community, were sharing about how particularly difficult it was for students to reach out to partners, service providers and even potential employees who would work with early-stage, student-run companies. And the same time, investors and partners eager to work with the best enterprising undergrads didn’t know how or where to start find them. They believed that, as a result, many great ideas are unable to find the support they need to come to fruition.
Vivek and Travis figured that there should be a way to match them together, and the idea for StudentBusinesses.com was born.
Started in September 2007, StudentBusinesses.com is an online directory that helps matchmake entrepreneurial students and their startups with investors and other interested parties. At this point of time, there are more than 100 student enterprises and over a thousand student entrepreneurs listed in the directory.
StudentBusinesses.com has already seen a number of successful interactions that have occurred through the site to date, including some seed financing deals to help students get their ideas off the ground. David Kosslyn – a co-founder of FrazIt.com – found funding from an incubator through the site. “Financing is but one of the many purposes of the site – there have been many more successful partnerships with other students and service providers formed to date,” said Christopher Hearse from the StudentBusinesses.com team, which today numbers four part-timers in addition to the two founders.
Although the idea may have been conceived in China and first taken root amongst American universities, StudentBusinesses.com actively aspires to create an international directory of top student entrepreneurs from around the world. “We believe that there is substantial benefit to facilitating international connections, so that a student with a business idea in Singapore can develop their site in the United States and commercialize it in India,” Christopher said. It has recently expanded into India with a beta launch of India.StudentBusinesses.com, and co-founder Travis was even recently in Singapore, meeting with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) to discuss expansion into Asia.
It will be interesting to see when how its plans to expand here pan out.
Those who wish to find out more about StudentBusinesses.com can email Christopher Hearse at chris dot hearse at studentbusinesses dot com.