Portraying a professional image can make or break a college startup. Luckily, with new apps and other small-scale resources making their way to the economical entrepreneur's desktop, these three college startups are finding more ways to make a good impression on the cheap.
Sensing opportunity in the recent explosion of online video, Babson College juniors Alexey Ossikine and Alex Debelov, both 21, set out to help advertisers reach and interact with content consumers. After launching Crelligence Media in 2008, the two needed to broadcast a professional image. "By leasing a virtual office at the prestigious Two International Place in Boston, customers think we're running a multimillion-dollar company," says Ossikine, who used Interactive Offices Worldwide to set up his company with the high-profile business address, local phone number, receptionist and mail forwarding. "Meanwhile, we're actually college students only paying about $300 a month."
While an undergrad at Rice University, Neha Gupta saw a growing interest in organic products and launched Sama Baby, a Houston-based luxury organic cotton clothing line for babies and toddlers. Gupta needed an 800 number for customers and merchants, so she turned to Grasshopper's virtual phone system . Plans start at $9.95 per month, so it's "an inexpensive way to make a college business look more professional," says Gupta, 24.
As a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Ryan Durkin felt the frustration among peers having to juggle online college resources like social networks, the university homepage and course websites. So in 2007, he partnered with Jared Stenquist and Boris Revsin to start CampusLIVE, a web portal dedicated to the college community. Durkin and his team decided to turn to web-based project collaboration tool Basecamp to keep everyone on point. Now, at a cost of between $24 and $149 per month, Durkin can have employees across campus working on projects ranging from designing new campus features to connecting with local charities. Says Durkin, 23, "CampusLIVE needed a tool to inexpensively and effectively communicate within the company."