RentAStudent connects startups with hungry, eager students (exclusive)

Startup RentAStudent has a lofty goal: to be a Craigslist-like service that connects startups and small businesses with talented students for one-time projects.

“A lot of businesses are struggling now to get all the work they need done with small budgets, and a lot of students are looking for ways to get exposure.” RentAStudent CEO Morgan Dierstein told VentureBeat. “We help both parties connect.”

RentAStudent’s purpose is to connect students and businesses for any imaginable project. Companies that may not be able to afford established freelancers, but are willing to take a shot with a college student, are the big winners here, especially in this tight economy. Students are helped because taking on a single project is easier than signing up for an internship and there’s money in it.

The company makes money by taking a 15 percent cut of each transaction. Dierstein said that it’s a slightly higher cut than some competitors, but said it’s worth it because RentAStudent pre-screens the students and companies offering projects. Because there is more accountability, Dierstein argues both sides are both more likely to be happy with the results of the project.

“Companies don’t want to work with complete strangers, so we help them get to know their prospective student workers,” Dierstein said.

Dierstein (pictured) first came up with idea for the company in 2006 while he was a college student in Los Angeles, looking for ways to make money. The idea intensified in 2009 when he unsuccessfully looked for jobs during the downturn and realized how strapped businesses were for cash as well.

RentAStudent officially launched in France — Dierstein’s home country — in January, but the team just made the site available in the U.S. this month. Dierstein said the company has taken in more than $40,000 in revenues this year and with the U.S. launch added in, he thinks the number could continue to grow considerably. The site has taken off mostly in France and has signed up more than 1,000 screened students, but now Dierstein and one other employee have set up shop in New York to get the word out.

At present, RentAStudent is self-funded, but Dierstein is using his company’s new placement to talk with VC firms and attract some essential funds to help the company grow and market itself.

“It was difficult to find funding in France,” Dierstein said. “I’m not sure if it’s cultural or strictly about money, but if you’re a startup, you’re more likely to find help in the U.S.”

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