Studentgem allows the UK’s six million students to create a personal profile by selecting from over 1,400 specific skills ranging across all areas of expertise, including translation, computer graphics, word processing, photography and a host of others. Businesses that need someone to carry out a one-off professional task can browse through student profiles to find someone with the specific skills they need, or post a specific job ad which the students can then respond to. The two parties can then negotiate a price that suits their budget. Like most wily entrepreneurs, Joanna Ward and Sue Harrison got the inspiration for the site when they “spotted a gap in the market.” The two women were working on a project which required a photographer but they thought the £600 professional quote they received was a little steep. They realised that a third year photography student would be just as capable of carrying out the job at hand and approached some colleges. “We found a brilliant student who was thrilled when we offered her £300,” says Ward. “It’s a win-win situation for both parties because a business saves money while the student earns more than if they were just pulling pints!” In particular, Studentgems has proven a real hit with small businesses – of the 350 businesses on their books, 290 are small businesses. “They are definitely our target demographic because most of them cannot afford to take on professional staff for small tasks,” says Harrison who points out that they have already had lots of repeat custom from SMEs. “There is a logistics company in the West Midlands who needed some web development done. They employed a student to design one website initially and he’s now working on the tenth!” Of course, it’s no surprise that the site has proven a real success with students. Not only does it give them the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and good contacts for future employment, but the average student using Studentgems earns £13.32 – a king’s ransom compared to the current £4.60 minimum wage for 18-21-year-olds. And in order to fend off rogue traders, both students and customers can post feedback on their experience of working with each other. “The site acts purely as a portal – so it’s up to the business to decipher who is the best person for the job. If we were vetting them, we’d become a recruitment website which we’re not.” The two women are currently working on plans to enhance the site and introduce additional services. "We think Studentgems could potentially revolutionise the jobs market and become a household name," says Ward. Time will tell if they become the Trinny and Susannah of the student job market.
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