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New Venture competitors develop business plan

Entrepeneurs Kevin Keely (left) and Andy Clark (right) work together to develop their new website on Feb 13. in the Dreamer Coffee Shop.

This article is part of a series. Central Michigan Life has been following this team throughout their progress before the New Venture Competition in March.

After talking to seven graphic designers in seven hours, Mount Pleasant senior Andy Clark’s New Venture Competition business plan is becoming increasingly realistic.

Clark and his business partners, Dearborn senior Kevin Keeley and Woodhaven senior Chelsea Barnes, are working to create a casual employment firm, The company would provide 16 to 25-year-olds with employment opportunities and financial management options, to help them save for future investments.

The team recently focused on creating a platform for their business and decided between the two they’d like to work with. 

The New Venture competition will take place March 27. Teams will compete for more than $75,000.

“It’s becoming scarily real. It’s time to put our degrees to work. It’s stressful, but I love it,” Clark said. “Don’t get me wrong, college is great. You can go to business school for eight years and no one will teach us probably 80 percent of what you need to know to start something like this.”

Working to be as productive as possible, the trio wanted to distance themselves from what they learned in class. They assigned their project tasks based on each team member's strengths.

Clark is focusing on the development side of the business, while Keeley is focusing on defining markets and demographics. Barnes was assigned the marketing and social media for the company.

“At this point in the startup phase, a lot of the duties are overlapping on each other,” Keeley said. “We’re all equals, but we all have our own niche areas that we work with and update each other on as we go.”

Keeley said the team working to focus on three main points: finances, the developmental relationship and the customer discovery and validation.

The team is working to ensure that would be a "more trustworthy" site for it’s customers compared to websites like CraigsList, LinkedIn and FreeLancer. The site would feature profile pictures and would serve to a niche market of students. categorizes various jobs by skill sets. The team thinks this would make the interface easier to interact with. Semi-professional jobs like young students designing a logo for a small business, or shoveling snow would be available for users to sift through.

“Instead of working 40 hours a week while trying to balance school, wouldn’t it be nice to find a job where you can do what you’re good at, and get some beer money or pay off some student loans?” Clark said.

With freelance work, students would post a job, complete it and go home with money and no prior commitment. The website would be good for those who “don’t want to work a conventional job” and they pick the amount of hours they work, Keeley said.

So far, the team has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on their idea.

“It’s really nice when someone asks me what I’m working on. I’ll give them a one minute pitch and they’ll be like ‘that’s a great idea, where were you two years ago?’” Clark said. “Every time I hear that, it helps me build confidence that this is something that could work.”

Central Michigan Life will follow the team throughout preparations for the New Venture Competition in March.