uBuckle offers an alternative approach to job hunting
Job hunting can be the most stressful aspect of college, even if you’re just searching for part-time work to fill your résumé. St. Louis residents Peter and Louis McLaughlin created their own jobs: helping college students of St. Louis find employment. The McLaughlins’ online company, uBuckle.com, has already gained traction with local companies. Scene spoke with Louis McLaughlin about the experience of forming his own company.
Student Life: How did you come up with the idea for uBuckle?
Louis McLaughlin: My brother Peter actually came up with the idea for uBuckle over a year ago, but at the time it was just that—a cool idea. We thought, “Why isn’t there an easier way for college students to find part-time jobs?” But it took a while for the potential of the idea to sink in. Sometime around Thanksgiving last year I brought it back up, and we just dove in headfirst.
A lot of us could use the money, but it’s the hassle of actually searching for a part-time job that keeps many students from getting one. So we feel like we’re not only helping the students who would have already searched the hard way save some time, but we’ve found a way to help those who might have otherwise not had the time to drive around town looking for “We’re Hiring” signs. And the fact that businesses search [for] students by major on uBuckle makes it more likely that a student could be contacted about a part-time job opportunity that actually has something to do with what they are studying.
SL: Could you describe the process of starting your company? How long did it take to come up with the idea?
LM: We probably spent at least four months just refining the idea and strategizing. We went through three or four versions of the business plan before anyone even got a chance to see it. We had conversations as to how the site would flow and what kind of content would be present on each page, but the first concept sketches for each page didn’t happen until months into the process. The logo was the first thing we designed, and that took almost two weeks alone.
Building a tech start-up from the ground up isn’t easy. Everything has a learning curve, from figuring out what kind of corporation you should file as to developing marketing strategies that effectively explain exactly what your product or service does. And one of the most ironic things about the start-up is that often the more original your idea is, even if it solves an obvious need, the more difficult it is to explain to people.
SL: How does your site differ from competitors like Monster.com? Why, in your opinion, is it more suitable for college students?
LM: The most obvious difference between uBuckle.com and other job sites is that uBuckle is just for current college students looking for part-time work. But instead of just creating another job board, we reversed the formula so that the businesses do the searching and they search students by major. This way, students have a good chance at being contacted for more interesting part-time jobs and jobs that would look more relevant on a résumé as they search for full-time employment after graduation.
Amazingly, uBuckle works in a way that gives more power to both the students and the businesses on the site. For students, it’s a tool that can help them get a part-time job without the hassle of the search; for businesses, it’s a chance to actively find a quality employee to fill a part-time position, instead of waiting for the right one to walk through the door.
Finally, once a student creates a profile on uBuckle, if a business contacts them, the message goes straight to the student’s .edu email, so they never have to return unless they want to update or turn off their profile.
SL: What has been your most successful advertising strategy?
LM: Facebook has actually been extremely helpful for spreading the word. We’ve used printed materials, things like bookmarks and handbills, but when you’re trying to promote a website, if your audience is already online, you’re only a click away.