Uplancer Connects Students into the Gig Economy
Huy Nguyen and Abhishek Chakrabarti, the founders of Uplancer, share great confidence and enthusiasm for the talent of today’s college students. In fact, they are building a company around it.
“Two words that define Uplancer are student and freelancing,” says Chakrabarti. Uplancer provides a mobile platform where companies can hire verified students from schools and universities to work on various gigs.
Making It Easier for Students to Gain Experience and Companies to Complete Projects
Chakrabarti and Nguyen met while working on their MBAs at The Ohio State University (OSU). They had experience in product marketing and freelancing. Chakrabarti had previous startup experience in a translating company he founded.
“We saw a lot of our classmates struggling to land internships,” he said. “They wanted more experience and were willing to work hard. We started thinking, how can we make it easier for students to get experience without waiting in line for internships. We decided to investigate deeper.”
The entrepreneurs surveyed incoming students. Most of them didn’t know what freelancing was. The entrepreneurs also learned that many small and medium-sized businesses have project work that they would be willing to contract out but didn’t have the time or infrastructure to manage gig* assignments.
Additionally, the Uplancer team envisioned a way for universities to help students learn and earn through freelancing gigs. The plan is to build a community of alumni who want to provide opportunities for students.
How It Works
Uplancer operates as a market place. Each gig is posted with a fee. Once the fee is agreed to by the posting company and the freelancing student, Uplancer holds the funds. Payment is released when the work is complete. This provides assurances to both parties. Uplancer receives a fee from the gig.
The platform currently focuses on three types of gigs—creative design, business & marketing content, and web & mobile app development. It provides a framework for companies to structure their gigs.
Uplancer has gigs posted and freelancers hired. While the students are excellent about posting—there are about 1,500 on the platform—companies with gigs need a bit more assistance to get started.
“These businesses didn’t know how to hire freelancers,” Chakrabarti said. “We want to make that process easier. We also want to help businesses work with students in their own city. We believe this will help retain students when they graduate and help small businesses succeed.”
“We are reaching out to smaller universities across the Midwest,” Chakrabarti said. “The idea of going through the alumna organization instead of through career services has helped get out the word.”
Uplancer is refining the framework for assisting small businesses in deploying a gig. They are figuring out how to create a level of support for the companies that will make them comfortable adding gigs and allow the company to scale.
Companies who hire from Uplancer benefit from the cost-effective, excellent talent, the coaching and structure that Uplancer’s platform provides students, and the innovative perspective that college students bring.
“We think we are going right at the whole way internships are supposed to work,” Chakrabarti said. “The students gain experience and get paid; for companies, Uplancer is a convenient way to get things done.”