AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Being an entrepreneur is tough. Sometimes it's hard to get projects off the ground. But a pair of University of Akron students are succeeding with a new idea that's getting national attention.
It could change the way you look at yard work.
The students launched a website last year called "Yaardvark."
It's similar to the popular ridesharing app Uber, but instead of matching riders with drivers, it matches homeowners with students willing to do some work around the yard.
When Yaardvark creator Will Armstrong wasn't studying in high school, he was making money doing yardwork for neighbors. And that eventually gave him a bright idea.
"So when it was time to go to college, I had all these people ask me, 'who do you know in high school that can take your spot?'"
Will didn't have anyone in mind, but the business major came up with his own solution-- a startup.
The University of Akron freshman and Kirtland native launched Yaardvark last fall with junior Charles Combest.
"Why not create a website that caters to homeowners and students and helps students find a flexible work schedule, but also helps homeowners save money?" Armstrong said.
The website is just taking off. For now, it's limited to students ages 15 to 22 years old looking to make extra money doing work around the house, and the homeowners who need the help.
Students and homeowners start off by creating a profile on the website.
Homeowners can view available workers by typing in their zip code and then find a match for a job.
"You can view their profile. So this is me for example," Armstrong said.
From mulching and weeding to mowing the lawn, they've got you covered.
Students will get paid, and homeowners will rate their work. The better the students are rated, the higher they will appear on the list when homeowners look for a worker, and they'll get higher paying jobs too.
Students can also review homeowners, so workers know what they're getting in to before they sign up for a job.
The goal is to expand the Yaardvark website and create a cell phone app, so you can find help for yardwork in an instant.
"The Uber business model is growing rapidly. People are using it in various fashions all around the U.S. It's innovative and can work because everyone does yardwork," Combest said.
Yaardvark caught attention from across the country-- making it into the top 32 in the "Student Startup Madness" competition.
The University of Akron is the only school in Ohio left in the competition.
More than 100 teams from across the nation submitted their ideas last fall. Since then, the field has been narrowed down to 64 teams, then 32 teams. By the end of the week, Will and Charles hope Yaardvark will still be standing in the top
They say competitions like this can help them fund their project.
"Being able to create something that isn't already created is definitely cool," Combest said.
"Hopefully we do become as big as Uber one day, but we do hope to definitely grow the company and see where it can take off."
Will and Charles say the University of Akron helped give them the tools to succeed.
"They've helped us build up hype around Yaardvark, let people know what it is," Combest said.
Yaardvark will have its official launch this spring. In the meantime, the website is up and running so you can create a profile now.
By the end of the week, they plan to sell Yaardvark T-shirts on Facebook for $15 each. The proceeds will go toward their marketing campaign.
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