Business

Flinja unleashes stealthy army of students on freelance workforce

I have always thought it would be nice to have a ninja at my disposal to take care of tasks like protecting me from attacks, stealthily breaking into ice cream shops once they are closed, and infiltrating covert tech companies to gather top secret information.

This dream may never come true, but I at least I’ll be able to hire a Flinja.

Flinja is a startup that uses the talent, energy, and financial need of college students to create a freelance workforce. On the marketplace, students post services they want to provide, which alumni and staff can directly book. The site provides an opportunity for students to build their professional networks, find jobs and internships, and make a little extra cash.

“As freelancers ourselves, we wish there had been a platform like Flinja around when we were in college that allowed us to make money off our skills and hobbies as well as network with the right people,” said CMO Rebecca Bahr. “With the economy the way it is, Flinja helps students earn money doing what they love and gives alumni and staff within their college network the capability to give back to their alma mater by hiring students for the services they need at an affordable rate.”

So far, the most popular tasks are tutoring, babysitting, driving, and language translation.

For security and networking purposes, the marketplace is only available to people with a .edu email address. The team shared that alumni have even asked for their old college email addresses back so they can sign up. The site securely processes all transactions with a third-party payment system and escrow facilities.

The exclusivity ensures safety, but also provides alumni the opportunity to stay connected to their alma maters.

“We are all proud of the universities we went to,” Bahr said this morning at DEMO. “Flinja allows us to give back to that college without having to write a check, connecting students to alumni one job at a time.”

The company is launching on a school by school basis. It is already available to the University of Southern California community. So far, 12 percent of the current USC population are registered Flinjas, with significant adoption from members of the class of 2016. An official Flinja student association is also on campus.

On Sept. 24, the platform debuted at University of California, Los Angeles and is available at Stanford on Tuesday. Plans for expansion include the rest of the of UC schools, followed by a national campaign. Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group said that this network could be a game-changer.

“I really, really want this company to succeed,” he said. “I think there is a huge opportunity here to tie the campuses to the wealthy alumni, creating a network and being bale to drive that network for jobs and money. This is a trojan horse.”

The five person team has extensive experience in tech spanning PayPal, Google, eBay, and Cisco, as well as other startups. They are based in San Francisco.

Flinja is one of 75 companies and 6 student “alpha” startups chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.


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