Finding a job is hard. Finding a job as an inexperienced student that can only legally work during certain times is next to impossible. Many states in the US place caps on when, where, and how long students can work, especially during the school year. Even jobs that students once held a monopoly on, such as babysitting, fast food, and minimum wage positions in a local store, have become fiercely competitive as out-of-work adults find themselves willing to settle for anything that will put food on the table.
There are many sites and services that aim to connect job seekers with employers, but very few of them are specifically catered to students. Turning to Monster or Craigslist as a student is much the same as job hunting the old fashioned way, with the same struggles outlined above. Flipgigs, a bootstrapped service that launched this past May, is looking to raise between $500,000 and $1 million to differentiate itself from other “Me too!” job sites by focusing specifically on students and their parents.
Flipgigs is one of a number of startups expanding the small-town mentality and challenging the notion of a 9-to-5 job. (Though, as anyone that works at a startup can tell you, working 9 to 5 would almost feel like a vacation.)
Tinkerers and craftspeople, who used to sell their wares based on word-of-mouth, now have Etsy. Travelers, and those lucky enough to own multiple properties, used to have to hope that their homes weren’t ransacked while they were away or pay a house-sitter; now they can list the property on Airbnb and make passive income while they’re away. Dog lovers used to have two ways of satisfying their canine cravings – dog walking and committing to just one pooch – but are now able to open their homes to a variety of pups for cash using DogVacay.
With Flipgigs, students can find “odd” jobs, such as tutoring, dog-walking, or other small, menial tasks, and earn income in their spare time. In theory, it wouldn’t be difficult to see a Flipgigger (the company’s term for students seeking jobs) continue to use the service to find those odd jobs even as other positions become available. In Silicon Valley speak, Flipgigs is like a new SaaS – Students as a Service. Someone wants an hour of work done here, another wants a half-hour done there, and a student is happy to fulfill both needs, for the right price.
The move reflects the current on-demand economy that has allowed services like Netflix and Spotify to flourish. If we, as a society, have decided that it’s pointless to walk to a physical location for our entertainment, why are we still wedded to the idea of a 40-hour work week? A huge number of capable, experienced adults struggling for positions at fast food chains (Note: If you do work at a fast food chain, we love you, so please don’t spit in our fries) is forcing students to adapt to this new economy and capitalize on any opportunity to make money.
Flipgigs founder Jayati Sengupta built Flipgigs to scratch her own itch, when her teenage daughter was unable to find a job via traditional means. Where most parents may ask around and post fliers, Sengupta decided to build a company. Both of her children have found jobs using Flipgigs, and Sengupta says that the platform has already spread across San Francisco, New York, and (surprisingly) the Midwest during its month-long existence.
Right now the service’s biggest competitor is TaskRabbit. While Sengupta says that she doesn’t view TaskRabbit as a competitor because the number of students that find work with the service is relatively small at 10 percent, if TaskRabbit were to suddenly decide to cater to students its established base and reputation may put an end to Flipgigs.
Sengupta is envisioning the company as a platform to avoid that very issue, positioning Flipgigs as the place for employers, parents, and students to connect and put those idle hands to work.