Blog post by Lindsy Gamble, LearnLaunch Staff
How does one solve the catch-22 of not getting a job without experience, but not getting experience without a job? Witnessing first-hand the effects of graduate underemployment on their very capable peers, University of Victoria commerce students Dave Savory and Dana Stephenson set out to remedy this predicament, questioning why their college work was based on fictional simulations and outdated textbooks rather than challenges that actual companies were facing. What could differentiate someone from the hoards of other bright, ambitious students with equally limited experience? Their answer was Riipen.
Riipen is an experiential education platform for higher-ed institutions founded by students for students (and other emerging talent). It connects industry partners to faculty members and their students during school so that, upon graduation, students have the skills and relevant experience necessary to get hired and start their careers. Riipen’s projects differ from co-ops and internships by demonstrating to potential employers a specific skill set, not teaching what it’s like to work at a particular place. The process begins with both students and organizations creating profiles, then students are fit to specific projects, and the best completed submission for each project is rewarded with various incentives. Businesses get to scope out prospective employees, access fresh insight, and promote their brand while students receive experience, reviews, and the opportunity to expand their network. In other words, participation is low-risk for both parties and the potential benefits manifold.
While already in schools across Canada, the company’s current challenge is how to segment and price out the U.S. market. Being selected for LearnLaunch’s Breakthrough program gives them a leg up, providing the best platform for them to conquer the Northeast. The team strongly believes that the Boston area, famous for its higher-ed institutions, is the academic capital of the world. They are also building traction by focusing on contacts in Southeast Asia, getting as many professors on board internationally as possible. Their suggestion to new entrepreneurs is to get into an incubator/accelerator as soon as possible and leverage the network of mentors to get clients, stating that the sales aspect is hard and to use every method available.
One other simple but valuable piece of advice garnered at LearnLaunch? Read Predictable Revenue.
In the future, Riipen’s founders believe it will be a billion-dollar company and a massive global brand, like a LinkedIn for students. They see the old-school resume as archaic, embellished, and rarely a good indication of whether the applicant is right for the job. It very well may begin to be phased out by employers, paving the way for a more efficient, innovative, and effective hiring process in the form of virtual portfolios and Riipen projects.