First year PPLE students at the University of Amsterdam have set up a skills exchange startup, named Curry Community. The concept is a simple one: it matches students who want to learn a skill with students willing to teach a skill they already have. The cashless project is currently being piloted among the PPLE students and is expected to be rolled out UvA-wide soon.
Currently the program has 27 members offering lessons. Among the courses offered are those in the basic geography of the Netherlands, which could come in handy for the international students among us, and in how to use Gimp 2.10, a new photo-editing program.
Joseph Krampe, a first-year PPLE student at the University of Amsterdam and co-founder of Curry Community, highlighted that the biggest challenge so far has been user retention. This means that it has been relatively easy to gain members, but after signing up they become inactive. His proposed solution is to widen the membership base by creating more awareness about the project. He hopes this will lead to a more active community.
Curry Community’s founders are hoping to emulate SkillHarbour, a similar skill exchange platform which already exists on a larger scale. Founded in Hamburg, SkillHarbour provides a number of categories of skills, such as cooking and beauty, to choose from on their website. Users’ interactions are mainly online.
The main difficulties of nurturing one’s hobbies as a student are the price and accessibility: when looking to pursue his hobby of piano playing, Krampe found that private individual lessons can cost over €50. The cheaper but less effective method was watching YouTube tutorials, but the “impersonal” and “one-size fits all” format was not working out. Hence, he thought an exchange system would cater well for the “time-rich and money-poor” students who were keen to study things outside of the university syllabus.
The founders entered the 2018 Red Bull Basement University Competition, which aims to encourage student innovators to improve the campus life in some way. Their idea won the online voting round but not the whole competition.
In the age of Uber, Marktplaats, and Airbnb we see the trend of connecting the supply to the demand in different spheres of daily life. The infamous Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room while at Harvard University and is today still one of the primary social networks. Potentially acting as subconscious inspiration to Curry Community’s founders, Facebook shows how far a student-founded startup can go.
The University of Amsterdam has a new mentor matching system which pairs young innovators with specialists to support them along the journey. Part of this supporting tool is the website Start Up and Running, which offers entrepreneurship courses, helping students find co-founders for their start up and mentoring. This website runs with the three major Amsterdam Institutions, UvA, HvA and VU, giving all young Amsterdammer minds a chance to develop their budding ideas.
Amsterdam Student Investment Fund (ASIF) is another organization working to connect student entrepreneurs with the platforms needed to grow their startups. ASIF organizes events such as P!TCH, which gives student entrepreneurs the stage to pitch their ideas to an audience of roughly 150 people. It also organizes ‘startup crawls’, including with the likes of Swapfiets and Uber, two transport systems Amsterdam runs on. ASIF also provide funding for up to €100,000 for promising student ideas.
If the organizations above do not already simplify the process of building student startups, there is now a ‘startup village’ based at the UvA Science Park. Though not specifically aimed at students, given its location it is bound to attract student scientists.
The University of Amsterdam has a wide international student base bringing all sorts of skills from many cultures which others are keen to learn about; Curry Community advertises a lesson about how to make chicken soup in ten minutes the Taiwanese way. Nicher lessons such as how to take care of a pet are also offered, allowing students to find themselves a furry companion to get them through university stress.
Curry Community’s next steps are to sell the existing version to the University of Amsterdam and grow from there. As a university that is disseminated across the city, connecting people in the same community could be a nice way to create stronger bonds between disparate individuals.
- University Reporter (Winter 2019)