l-r: Rebecca Ho, Diana Kidd, Gavin Norquay

Business students transform class project into a real business

September 17, 2008

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Five student entrepreneurs are hoping to change how some post-secondary students fund their education. They have created U-Connect.ca, a project-posting website for businesses that want to connect with students interested in doing freelance project work.

Originally a BUS 395 course project last spring, U-Connect.ca showed promise, registering more than 100 SFU students in the first few weeks and organizing four job matches. Bolstered by the site’s popularity with students, undergraduate business students Gavin Norquay, Gale Villami and Omar Satari, psychology undergrad Rebecca Ho and interactive art and technology student Diana Kidd decided to go into business for real.

They worked on beta development over the summer and have just launched their online project management system.

"There are a lot of students with skills," says Gavin Norquay, a fourth-year business student at SFU’s Surrey campus. "But there’s not much out there in the market for freelance student work. U-Connect is an interesting way for businesses to give back to students and get an economical deal."

Unlike other popular job-posting websites, U-Connect.ca focuses on short-term projects. It matches students with prospective project work and shepherds both students and businesses through a few easy steps that help them agree to terms, conditions and timing. It also serves as a communications system between businesses and the students, with students filing optional status reports about their progress on projects.

U-Connect will earn its money by selling credits that businesses can then use to post projects and other services. Norquay says that the site suggests a pricing structure to help both businesses and students decide on fair compensation.

"We’re designing the system to be quite scaleable," he says. "We want to connect as many small businesses and students as possible so we’re hoping to expand to other universities and colleges in the region too." Visit: www.u-connect.ca.
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