Next up in our Why We Invested Series is Stunio. Stunio is a gig marketplace that bridges the gap between colleges and communities, providing businesses and consumers with flexible talent. Stunio’s innovative matchmaking algorithms quickly match job postings to the best local students.
The concept of a "broke college student" is no secret, and the statistics couldn’t be clearer. Currently, 20% of college students have less than $100 to their name, while a staggering 60% have less than $1,000. Over the past decade, California has witnessed a 48% increase in student homelessness, and other states aren’t far behind. The demanding nature of university life, with its constant deadlines, exams, and finals, makes it difficult for students to secure jobs with inflexible schedules. In many cases, students find that holding down a job can be more of a burden than a benefit, leading to frustration for both students and business owners seeking entry-level workers. This mismatch between available part-time employment opportunities has resulted in the emergence of the plasma industry, often referred to as "Blood Money," where an increasing number of students turn to selling their plasma to cover their educational and living expenses. While the financial gains can be significant, this practice can have detrimental effects on one's health. Adam Green, Co-Founder and CEO of Stunio, personally experienced this challenge during his first year of law school at Michigan State University when he resorted to selling plasma to make ends meet when he was strapped for cash.
For college students, gig work is becoming more widespread, but many gig opportunities require access to a vehicle and availability during peak hours. Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are primarily designed for professionals or offer low-cost labor from abroad. Conversely, homeowners and local residents often struggle to find reliable contractors, with 50% expressing dissatisfaction with their experiences. The alternative often involves paying exorbitant hourly rates, sometimes exceeding $80, on platforms like TaskRabbit, which also receive poor reviews. Local businesses play a vital role in the economy, contributing to nearly half of the economic output, and they rely on students. However, they lack a platform that can provide the flexibility students require. Notably, more than 60% of small businesses are grappling with labor shortages, highlighting the significant demand for an expanded student workforce.
The gig economy was valued at $204 billion in 2018 and is projected to more than double to $455 billion by 2023. By 2027, over 50% of the workforce is expected to participate in the gig economy. Currently, 30% of gig workers are aged between 18-29. While many students have engaged in the gig economy through various channels like word of mouth, Facebook, or gig work apps such as DoorDash, there hasn't been a widely used platform tailored specifically for students to showcase their skills and find high-paying gig opportunities.
In the United States, there are approximately 4,000 undergraduate degree programs, with 15 million undergraduate students enrolled, 63% of whom are full-time. Overall, 40% of individuals aged 18-24 are enrolled in post-secondary education programs. As of 2017, 43% of full-time undergraduate students and 81% of all part-time undergraduate students were employed while in school. However, these students were earning an average of $11.58 per hour, amounting to around $12,000 per year for part-time work, which is clearly insufficient to cover tuition or living expenses and falls below the national poverty line.
Enter Stunio. Stunio partners with universities across the country to connect top-notch student talent with the needs of homeowners and businesses (e.g., property management, events, SMBs, etc.) in local communities. The platform aligns the interests of clients (such as local businesses and residents) and college students. Students often struggle to find flexible part-time work that pays well. Stunio addresses this by connecting students with gig opportunities that pay an average of $26 per hour, more than double the minimum wage in most areas. Businesses and residents gain direct access to a pool of thousands of students with various skill sets, allowing them to fill labor gaps as needed rather than committing to hiring someone for 20+ hours a week. Additionally, clients have a strong desire to support the local student population, as many of them are alumni or businesses that serve student customers. Restaurants, banks, hotels, small enterprises, real estate professionals, and many more have turned to Stunio to bolster their workforce with dependable student labor.
The founders, Adam Green and Hemkesh Agarwal, possess a strong founder-market fit. Both Adam and Hemkesh deeply understand the challenges faced by students who must balance their academic pursuits with the need to earn a living. Adam is in his final year of law school at Michigan State University. Before founding UniServices, he served as the Chief Operating Officer at Dome IQ, a public policy startup, and held various positions in the Michigan House of Representatives. Hemkesh, on the other hand, is a recent Computer Science graduate from Michigan State University. Throughout college, he developed websites and mobile apps from scratch for more than 20 early-stage startups, generating $20,000 per month in revenue. He played a crucial role in bringing the Stunio MVP to market in just five months. Both Adam and Hemkesh are driven and passionate entrepreneurs, and they have their sights set on transforming Stunio into the next national gig economy platform.