New Venture Competition Winners launch venture
July 10, 2008
By Liz Warren-Pederson
The Eller College of Management’s Chris and Carol McGuire Entrepreneurship Program has a long track record of producing students who can hone in on a problem and turn its solution into a new venture. In June, StudentExperts.com — which won the McGuire Center’s annual business plans competition as SkillIT — did just that when it initiated the pilot phase of its launch at the Arizona Center for Innovation in Tucson.
“We offer the community affordable in-home tech support provided by highly skilled college students,” explains co-founder Anna Brauer (BSBA Business Management and Entrepreneurship ’08). “Users will benefit from our great rates and expertise, while students benefit from the extra work experience, cash, and flexible hours. As recent graduates, we understand how difficult it is to find a job that pays well, works around your class schedule, and also allows you to expand your work experience.”
“The goal of the entrepreneurship program is to equip students with the ability to find viable solutions for all kinds of problems — and then seize the opportunity to turn the solution into a sustainable business or innovation within a company,” says Sherry Hoskinson, director of the McGuire Center, which houses the award-winning program. The program’s Idea Path™ curriculum guides students through the steps of launching any kind of venture, and as the project moves through the different phases, it naturally evolves into a stronger plan. For StudentExperts.com, that evolution continued through the business plans competition.
“After discussions with the competition judges, we identified some flaws in our plan,” says Brauer, who developed the venture with teammates Terence Rosen, Tyler Hall, and Eric Wilson. “One of those was a hands-off approach that focused on social networking as a way to connect users with technicians. Now, in the current model, we qualify student technicians through interviews and testing, and match each service call with a student who is an expert in that particular skill set.”
StudentExperts.com draws on the expertise of IT-focused college students to offer technology users support in areas such as computer security, software installation, wireless setup, and troubleshooting. Users can submit a request form online at www.StudentExperts.com or call 520.762.6687 to connect with students for in-home support. During the pilot stage of the company’s Tucson launch, a special rate of $25/hour is available, with a two-hour minimum.