“It’s mainly the expertise of our mentor Conny Vandendriessche that we are incredibly grateful for.”

As a student, did you also tap pints in a pub, polish offices or pack boxes in a factory? The pocket money is a nice bonus, but it doesn’t make much of an impression on your resume. The start-up Studaro helps students find work. First only international students, now all young potentials. First only study-related part-time jobs, now also their first real job. With investor Conny Vandendriessche providing the smart capital, Studaro is ready to conquer all student cities.

After their studies,Jelle Van Impe and Ruben Vleurick did an internship together at an accelerator for start-ups in Mumbai. Once back in Belgium, the duo knew what they wanted to do with their professional lives: start up their own start-up. Lorenzo Ego got on board with his friends.

“The job search turned out to be a big problem for international students. So we started focusing our platform entirely on that.”

“All three of us were bitten by internationalization: Jelle and Ruben by their adventure in India, I by my work as a student representative”, says Lorenzo. “Our first plan was a platform for international students, where they could find everything they needed here in Belgium: a place to live, a student job, a community of other foreign students, … We then sought validation for our idea, and especially the search for work proved to be a major problem for international students. So we were going to focus our platform entirely on that.”

Studaro team

Pivoting at Birdhouse Accelerator

When Studaro landed at Birdhouse in those early stages, Lorenzo says the startup gained momentum. “We started, with the support of fantastic mentors (including Conny Vandendriessche), a super intensive process to come up with an MVP (minimum viable product). We had to put our recruitment office for international students into a viable business model. The conclusion was that we had to broaden our target group. With just the international students, we wouldn’t be able to get a scalable model out of the ground.”

“We then reoriented Studaro to all young potentials. At the same time we saw a gap in the market for study relevant side jobs. Not the classics like the catering industry, the supermarket or the factory, but a student job that puts the theory from the auditorium straight into practice. If you’re a marketing student and you can work a few hours a week in an advertising agency, you can already chalk up your first relevant work experience on your resume.”

“If you’re a marketing student and you can rotate in an advertising agency for a few hours a week, you can already chalk up your first relevant work experience on your resume.”

“This summer we expanded our market even further, and we are also helping school leavers find their first real job. We’re trying to get them to get the maximum flow. This is how we complete the circle. A student job is the ideal way to get to know your future employer and show what you have to offer. You become familiar with the company culture. The hard skills can be sharpened on the job , employers do not have unrealistic expectations about this.

But if your DNA clashes with the company’s, it’s probably not going to work. You can only really find out what the match is by getting to work somewhere as a student. With Studaro, we are strongly committed to this growth trajectory. There was still room for that in the market, because the big players are mainly focusing on the more lucrative medior and senior profiles.”

Conny Vandendriessche provides smart capital

In the meantime, Studaro has a database of 5,000 students and almost 300 companies have used the recruitment office. With their Birdhouse mentor Conny Vandendriessche, the founders have also brought an investor on board. The founder of temporary employment agency Accent is a name like clockwork in the recruitment world.

“Having someone like Conny Vandendriessche investing in Studaro gives us credibility,” Lorenzo says. Especially with large companies, as a start-up you need a
entry point
need. Conny opens doors. But we don’t want to overdo it. If our investor is the trigger to work with us, that would be an act of weakness. Companies have to believe in what we do.”

“We learned a lot from the Birdhouse start-ups who were just a little further along than we were. The obstacles we saw popping up, they had encountered six months earlier.”

“It is mainly Conny’s expertise that is of great help to us. We didn’t want just any investor, we just wanted
smart capital
. Money is not hard to find, we could have gone to the bank or tried to get grants. We were mainly looking for experience and expertise. Because like any start-up, we’re still paying plenty of learning fees.”

“For example, we underestimated how few job openings SMEs launch during the summer. But that’s another
lesson learned
and it won’t happen again next summer. By the way, we learned a lot from the Birdhouse start-ups who were just a bit further ahead than us. The obstacles we saw surfacing, they had already encountered six months earlier.

Studaro image

Entrepreneurship with social impact

Studaro has work to do. The current team of 6 has to be expanded with two more people in the very short term. Besides Ghent and Brussels, the start-up will also recruit in Leuven and Antwerp. In parallel with the platform that Studaro is building to speed up the initial selection, it also wants to have real boots on the ground in a number of cities.

“As a political scientist, I actually wanted to go in a different direction, more in the public sector. Studaro was initially more of a temporary experiment before I started my real working life. But now life as a start-up has engulfed me and I don’t want to do anything else,” Ego laughs. “I have realized that I don’t have to choose between entrepreneurship and community involvement at all. Studaro helps young people find work, we put their lives on track. I wouldn’t want to just build yet another app to order pizza. I want to make an impact.

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