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Clarkson Students' New Start-up Business Combines Innovative Ideas And A Memorable Name To Bring Together College Students And Corporate Recruiters
Ooye (oo·ē). The name alone is designed to get people’s attention. And the services it provides are designed to give college upperclassmen facing a tight job market a customized introduction to corporate recruiters and prospective employers.
The company is the brainchild of 24 sophomores at Clarkson University. The students are members of Venture@Moore House, an innovative residential learning experience in which students live together and operate a business in a corporate setting. The students are responsible for everything from establishing the company’s structure and making personnel decisions to securing start-up costs from a panel of investors made up of Clarkson School of Business faculty and administrators and prominent local business owners.
“We have a year to get this company up and running,” said Ooye CEO Wesley Turner. “But we have a lot of enthusiasm and a group of students who are willing to put in the time and energy needed to make it work. We spent the first ten weeks of this semester dissecting our concept, researching the competition and finding a way to customize our services to position ourselves in the marketplace. Last month we presented our proposal and detailed business plan to the investors and secured the $10,000 needed to cover the initial costs.”
The concept behind Ooye is to capitalize on the growing market built around college employment recruitment by offering students and businesses better and more personalized methods for making contact and creating relationships.
“Career fairs usually involve a quick handshake and adding your resume to the stack piling up at the recruiters’ booths,” added Turner. “Career Web sites that are now available do little more than post resumes and offer companies the opportunity to source these candidates for a service charge or yearly membership. Ooye offers much, much more than that. We provide a conduit for students, employers and career centers to interact.”
Ooye will maintain a Web site service where students and companies can post information about themselves—including detailed professional and personal biographies, video presentations and profile pages. A messaging system will also be available so students and recruiters can “talk” online. Ooye gives companies a chance to meet the job candidates, and students have the opportunity to invest in themselves and their futures by presenting themselves fully.
Another unique service offered through Ooye to enhance contact between students and corporate recruiters is an interactive event in which student subscribers have an opportunity to meet directly with recruiters and demonstrate their ability to lead a team or participate as a productive member of the team. At an all-day event, teams of students will be faced with physical and mental challenges that will showcase their skills to prospective employers, while the employers will have a chance to learn far more about potential employees than traditional recruiting methods. Prizes will be awarded to students as an added incentive to attend.
The company has scheduled one such event for this year to be held in central New York in mid April. Students with a 3.0 or above grade point average will be eligible to attend. The company plans to reach the New York state college market through advertisements in newspapers, mailings to business school clubs, and distributing information at campus career fairs. Information packets and pamphlets will be sent to corporate recruiters as well to secure their support.
The company knows its market because as college students eventually facing employment issues, they are the market. Ooye personnel have completed the market analysis and are hard at work getting the Web site up and running for a January launch. But one question remains: Can a group of 19- and 20-year old kids run a corporation, pay back their loan with five percent interest and turn a profit while maintaining a normal college course load?
“I have learned over the years never to underestimate what our students are able to accomplish through hard work, high energy and a willingness to go back again and again until they get it right,” said Marc Compeau, director of entrepreneurship programs at Clarkson and the group’s adviser. “At Clarkson, students learn business by doing business. The successes and missteps along the way are all part of the learning process. In the end, our students will themselves profit from the creative thinking, team work, troubleshooting and risk taking that is intrinsically built into the program.”