A swarm of students surrounds a brightly painted bus parked in the middle of the campus quad. Is this a local radio station promo? Nope. Call it a Web-based resume workstation, if you will.
So how does a successful Web site fit in to this scenario? Combining low-tech marketing (the bus) with a high-tech business (the bus is equipped with laptops linked to their Web site) is just one way Sara Sutton and Rachel Bell stay in touch with the college students who search for jobs through their company, JobDirect.com.
Instead of just posting resumes and job listings on its site, JobDirect.com allows employers to search for qualified candidates in its database. Those candidates are notified via e-mail and can decide if they want their resume forwarded to the interested company. "It takes the inefficiency out of job searching," says Sutton, 24, who started the Stamford, Connecticut, business with her childhood pal, Bell, 24, in 1995.
Sutton and Bell began their venture while in college, and though they put their degrees on hold when the company took off, the pair haven't forgotten what it's like to be a student. Job-seekers post their resumes on the database for free, and all revenue--$3 million in 1998--comes from companies who pay up to five figures monthly for access to entry-level applicants. Marketing efforts, including a job drive and student reps who earn money for collecting resumes, give the company its "grass-roots feel." Says Sutton, "It's a great way for us to keep in touch with the student population."
Where the wild watches are.
The courage of a lion. The tenacity of a beaver. The cunning of a wolf. Combining these qualities with a keen business sense and a lifelong passion for entrepreneurship, Billy Darnell, 24, found his niche with Zoobees, playful watches that feature animal photos on the faces and vinyl or animal-print bands.
In the summer of 1994, before he entered Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Darnell was inspired by a talk show segment on watch entrepreneur Jeff Walsh, whose timepieces feature fine art. Revealing an assertiveness that would eventually bring his idea to fruition, Darnell called Walsh for advice.
Darnell's next step was to find quality photos for his watch faces. He soon discovered renowned nature photographer Art Wolfe and, knowing Wolfe's quality photos would give his company instant recognition, approached him for the exclusive rights to use his photos. Wolfe agreed on one condition: that the watches be a quality product--something Darnell secured when he struck a deal with one of the world's top watch manufacturers. In 1997, Darnell's work paid off when he finally began selling Zoobees while still in college.
Today, Zoobees are stocked in virtually every zoo in the United States, Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Endangered Species retail chain. Darnell hopes to expand his $250,000 company, Zoobee Inc., internationally, as well as introduce new watches to the line, including an aquatic series. "I love animals," says Darnell, who contributes 1 percent of his sales to the Wildlife Conservation Society. "I always knew I wanted to create a product that would give back to society."
When Texas Christian University (TCU) student Ash Huzenlaub took a semester of independent study to find his life path, he instead found a mission. After meeting successful TCU alumni entrepreneurs and visiting several schools of entrepreneurship, he began Endeavor: Entrepreneurship@TCU, with the goal of establishing a TCU entrepreneurial program. Members hope university leaders will reach a decision this fall. To lend support, visit http://www.tcuendeavor.com
JobDirect.com, (203) 327-2201, http://www.jobdirect.com
Zoobee Inc., (214) 675-9963, http://www.zoobee.com