While still in college themselves Brendan Weinstein and Doug Messer started DBFly Watches, a watch company that emphasized form, function and fashion for today’s college student. The brand was appealing because the watches were priced under $50 and featured interchangeable faces and bands. It was easy and affordable for the DBFly customer to have multiple watches for every night out and every occasion.
As students at the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University (Weinstein) and Syracuse University (Messer), both founders knew that they needed to hit the college student hard with their messaging and the best way to do that was through college ambassadors. A college ambassador is a college student that becomes a product or brands spokesperson on their campus. Clothing brands, electronics brands, wireless brands, energy drink brands and more turn to college ambassadors to make sure their products and brands are resonating with this important demographic.
Starting a college ambassadorship program seemed easy at the beginning. Find some customers at each campus that loved the product and sign them up. Messer tells Techfaster.com it wasn’t as easy as they thought. “While running our first venture, DBFLY watches, we attempted to create our own campus ambassador program. We struggled to find motivated college students outside of our direct network, and found it nearly impossible to manage all of our ambassadors.”
The two entrepreneurs couldn’t believe a platform didn’t exist for brands to find ambassadors and for ambassadors to find brands, like a monster.com for college ambassadors. While it may seem a bit absurd, even some of the biggest brands would take to Craigslist to solicit college students to become their brand ambassadors. Other brands may network with career resources on campus often resulting in a poster on a bulletin board where a brand’s core audience wouldn’t even see it.
Something had to be done and Messer and Weinsten were the ones to fix it. They created University Beyond.
What does University Beyond do?
University Beyond is a centralized platform for students to find, apply & work for collegiate ambassador programs. Additionally, we provide companies a backend dashboard to more efficiently manage and collaborate with their on-campus representatives.
Our dashboard includes personalized messaging capabilities, task management software & file sharing capabilities all designed to improve on-site collaboration between students and companies. Also included, is applicant-tracking software and a rating metric for companies to effectively assess their ambassador’s performance. Our easy-to-use software is designed to improve recruitment and collaboration of on-campus work experience.
Why did you get involved in the educational technology space?
Brendan and I became involved in the educational technology space after experiencing first hand, the lack of on-campus work experience available to students.
Extensive research proved that hundreds of ambassador programs exist; yet, the current model of recruitment and collaboration is both inefficient and ineffective. These programs offer students an incredible amount of value, ranging from resume building experience & networking opportunities to different compensation packages in a monetary form, collegiate credit or even free product or software. We understand the value of work experience and we made it our mission to create a disruptive technology that could ultimately shift the collegiate work force & future of education.
Tell us about the University Beyond team:
The University Beyond team is made up of a diverse group of young entrepreneurs. The original founders, Doug and Brendan, have significant experience in the start-up space and have previously founded two other successful ventures. Doug and Brendan were recently awarded
Westchester Wunderkinds, which is Westchester Magazine and 914INC’s annual highlight of the top, under 30, up-and-coming executives in Westchester County.
During the early stages of University Beyond, Michael Spitalieri and Rich Anand were brought onto the team to oversee further executive roles of the company. Both pre-med majors, the two have helped the team develop key trends in the educational market and drive the innovation behind University Beyond.
Tell us about your audience:
University Beyond works with companies of all sizes. Our private beta is launching in June with over 50 brands, ranging from emerging collegiate start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Our goal is to help brands at all stages of their program – whether they are trying to start and implement a program, grow an existing program, or manage their on-campus representatives.
We are also working with collegiate students of all ages and experiences. Our platform is open to all collegiate students nationwide looking for on-campus work experience. Our goal is to help students foster professional networking connections, while simultaneously building their resumes.