The summer before he started college, Zak Fick posted flyers around the neighborhood offering to do “anything you wanted for whatever you were willing to pay.” After mowing lawns and walking dogs, he made $700 after working just 15 jobs!
In college, Fick and his friends realized that there were a lot of people in their communities (including professors) that needed odd jobs done. In 18 months, they made $10,000. Fick was excited by this potential. “I knew this was something that I wanted available to all students everywhere,” he told Opportunity Lives.
Fick graduated in December 2013 and is currently pursuing an MBA from the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, but he spends his free time growing the business, which he now calls Help University, or Help U for short.
Help U essentially connects college students with community members who need jobs done. People can go to the site and “post a job” so that college students can see opportunities in their local areas. Fick just recently renovated the company’s website and is in the process of setting up new profiles for students and employers so that they can list their projects online.
Students have done over 300 jobs through the service so far, and Fick hopes to see 10 job postings per day this year. Right now he is focusing on raising awareness and getting people to sign on to the new site.
The biggest challenge has been handling all of the growth by himself. Fick is looking for interns to help manage the business, with the hope of paid opportunities later this year. “Help U needs to grow exponentially – so I’ve been researching the best ways to make an idea catch fire and implementing different ways for it to expand,” he said.
So far, students have earned just over $12,000 by using the platform, but Fick wants to drastically grow that number by increasing the number of communities listed on the site. Right now, Help U is represented in 25 states and 40 colleges. Fick wants to double that in 2015.
Within the next 5 years, Fick envisions a mobile app that would make it even easier to connect the people listing jobs and students looking for work. By doing so, college communities will benefit. “Help U is designed to set students up for success by helping and working with their communities,” he said. “I believe this is a great mission that benefits all involved.”
He’s certainly had an impressive journey, and his advice to entrepreneurs may sound counter-intuitive. “Give. Give way more than you receive,” said Fick.
Even though entrepreneurs are sometimes portrayed as relentless profit seekers, Fick doesn’t give off that impression. “Give from the beginning, whether that means money, time, or energy. Give with a glad heart and it will support you and your brand. People will rally behind you even if the times get tough,” he said.