Thinking Bigger: Enternships
2012-06-01 02:39 - 63,004 reads
Gabriella Griffith talks to Rajeeb Dey about how he became an entrepreneur straight out of university and is now inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs through his innovative Enternship platform.
Your days as a student are often cited as the best of your life, at least that’s what I remember being told. Unfortunately the perception that students live the life of Riley, with very little to worry about other than which bar to head to on a Thursday night, just isn’t right.
Students are faced with increasing fees and the prospect of being welcomed into the arms of the highest youth unemployment rates for twenty years.
But Oxford graduate Rajeeb Dey didn’t languish in his graduation robes dreading the future, he decided to try and secure not only his career but those of all students, by becoming an entrepreneur with a mission to create more entrepreneurs. He created Enternships.
“Enternships is a platform that connects start-ups and small entrepreneurial businesses to graduate talent” explains Dey. “When I was in university there was nothing linking aspiring entrepreneurs to entrepreneurial companies.”
Dey wants to make sure that start-ups – brimming with entrepreneurial atmosphere but lacking the brand and monetary clout to go to campuses themselves – have a presence at universities.
A member of the Entrepreneur Society at Oxford, Dey started his business long before he graduated by creating a very basic listing site for graduates at Oxford to connect with companies.
When he graduated, Dey began the process of launching his business beyond the dreaming spires of Oxford.
“Getting the site up and running was a challenging process,” he explains. “I started off outsourcing the building of the platform to various agencies and we had numerous delays, but eventually I found someone to join me full time to develop the site in-house.
“We got the site ready to launch in 2009 – there was an interesting process of figuring out what exactly we were going to do and what businesses and graduates needed.”
So what, I ask, did they need?
“Start-ups need talent,” he replies confidently. “We work with 4,000 start-ups now and generally they are struggling because they don’t have the same brand identity as bigger companies and only the blue-chip firms really get presented to students.
“Graduates on the other hand are keen to find out about alternative companies to those which they are regularly pushed towards.”
Dey believes Enternships addresses both of these issues, creating opportunities on both sides of the fence.
“For both parties it’s a case of “try before you buy”, it’s a low risk way of bringing someone into a business and a way for candidates to see if they enjoy a certain role.”
Enternships is going from strength to strength and has already caught the eye of Martha Lane-Fox, Peter Jones and James Caan. How did such a young company find itself on the radar of these uber entrepreneurs?
“Most of these people I managed to meet whilst in university as part of the Entrepreneur Society,” explains Dey.
“I reached out to them, having invited them to come and speak at Oxford, and they were willing to help out – James Caan just posted a new role with us the other day. It’s all about developing these existing relationships.”
It’s not just networking that Dey has a particular talent for – his money management skills have helped him to build a successful enterprise on little more than a small round of seed funding from family and friends.
“Initially we completely bootstrapped the business working from home and keeping costs to a bare minimum,” he says.
“We only moved into our new offices in Tech City in September of last year up until then it was all from home. We worked really hard to get our work out there and get businesses on board.”
As a melting pot of start-ups Tech City would appear to be perfect place to make a home for Enternships. I wonder what it means to Dey to be based in the home of London’s burgeoning tech scene?
“A lot of the companies that we work for are tech start-ups and it helps to be close to them” he tells me.
“Being part of the scene makes networking a lot easier and ensures word of mouth. There are so many events here you can go to something different every night and meet some great people.”
So now that Enternships has an official office, how does the business model work to support it?
“We have started charging business to log their placements with us. They pay between £80 – £140 depending on what kind of package they go for.
“We also have our first major contract with Santander. We connect their small business clients with interns.”
From day one in 2009 up to now 4,000 companies in over 20 countries have used Enternships to find graduate talent and the list in impressive. Well-known brands like Groupon, PayPal, Huddle and Made.com have used the platform.
Dey’s mind is fixed on continuing this impressive growth.
“We are looking at similar partnerships as we have with Santander. On top of expanding the base here we want to roll out internationally. We are particularly interested in emerging economies were we think we can make a big impact.
“Also we are looking at younger age groups. We would like to help in the further education sector in securing work experience for students.”
News of Enternships offers a welcome reprieve to the negative headlines around youth unemployment. Perhaps inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs is the antidote we need.
“We have already heard of great success stories about our “enterns” going on to set up their own businesses and really benefiting from our service.
“We are selling entrepreneurship as a career,” says Dey. “We offer graduates a chance to learn about the businesses first hand, how to go off and set up on their own – it’s inspiring and fun.”
These are just the words that should be associated with graduate life and with Dey himself acting as the perfect role model, with any luck, many of the UK’s graduates won’t be too far behind him.