#MySideProject Luke Jenkins Creates a World Where Favors = Money.
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Luke Jenkins (@ljenks23), a startup enthusiast and army hockey player, sets forth to creating the only place online where you can trade a favor for a favor, like money.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a 23 year old entrepreneur born and raised in River Falls, Wisconsin. I played 3 years of Junior A Hockey in Amarillo, Texas before being recruited to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. I’m currently a sophomore here studying Engineering Management with a track in Computer Science.
What is OweYaa and how did you get started with it?
In laymans, OweYaa is a web based skill exchange. Users complete tasks/get their tasks completed using our virtual currency ‘favors’. My friend Jackson Rohde and I have been embarking on entrepreneurial adventures ever since we were young. About a year and a half ago we started working on a new mobile application called StreamNightLife.
Stream Night Life is a iOS application for communities in Wisconsin that connects them to the events, deals, and specials around their local community, focusing on social and night life aspects. Users are able to upload any event, deal, or special to the application. Essentially, crowd sourcing the fun things to do with a little parental guidance.
While working on stream, we were constantly asking our friends and family for assistance, including asking others for expertise and advice. To repay people for helping us, we’d let them know we can return the favor by doing something for them. It’s creating a trade off. That’s where the idea of ‘a favor for a favor’ came up – and Oweyaa was born. Help me out, and I “OweYaa” one.
OweYaa is a web-based skills exchange that allows users to leverage their expertise and transact by doing one another a favor. It simply is a marketplace to do small tasks and services (IE: Favors) for one another and receive a Favor credit in return.
Right now OweYaa is “under construction”, and are available to beta users. You can simply enter your e-mail on the homepage to unlock the beta and join the community now. We’re actually launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
What are the details of your crowdfunding campaign?
The campaign is set to take place March 24th through May 13th, with the goal of raising $25,000 in fifty days. We’re hoping to use this funding to further develop the site and create better UI/UX so that users can engage easier with the site. We especially want to work on the messaging system between users. I’m in charge of the UI portion of OweYaa, but I’m not a full-time developer and so we have to outsource. The funding could aid us in finding an in-house developer, and also move towards developing our mobile application. Ultimately, it’s really about getting people excited about the idea.
You can access the Indiegogo campaign here! Join us in creating the only place where you can trade a favor for a favor.
The biggest challenge about OweYaa is getting people to adopt the idea of doing a favor for someone, and receiving a virtual buying credit in return. People like doing favors, but they also consider opportunity costs and respond better to incentives. The big thing for us is making people realize that inside this community, when you help someone, you will get help in return.
You’re building a great team with OweYaa, what are advice you have for students with side projects looking to hire people to join the team?
The biggest thing I look for now, after going through so many individuals, is if at the very start of the interview, they start talking. Let me explain. When I hired our new marketing specialist Connor Born for OweYaa, he started the interview using the word “we.” He’d ask, “what can we do to make this project bigger?” From the minute I started talking to Connor, I could tell he loved the idea and wanted to be involved. You want to bring someone on to the team that sees the vision you see, but from a different perspective. He was someone who shared my vision, but brought in a different skillset.
How are you managing all this while in school? Any productivity tips for students?
It’s a challenge but the nice thing about my school is that it takes away your social life pretty well – but in a constructive way. I have a strict course curriculum and my schedule is pretty busy so I’m disciplined to stay focus and productive. When I have free time, I spend it all on working on my side projects like OweYaa. It’s really about staying disciplined with your days so that you don’t get sidetracked and lose momentum.
What’s your advice for students looking to start a side project, whether it’s programming or building their own online business or anything in general?
I have three pieces of advice:
For any students like me looking to start a side project, the biggest thing is to consider if it’s something you’re passionate about. When you’re passionate about your work, it shouldn’t feel like work. As you see your creation come to life, you won’t mind all the hard work and obstacles that come your way. A side project is not something you’d pull out and just make a couple of marks on it. It has got to be something that you care about and am willing to set aside time to devote to it.
Networking is going to be your number one resource for your project. I connected with a ton of people outside West Point and I’ve found a lot of the people I work with today through different online groups, looking through online profiles, and also finding freelancers on Odesk. I’d connect with someone, ask them questions, and get lots of feedback in return. The best way to approach someone is to approach them asking for one specific, little piece of advice. It’s kind of like asking for a favor. Sometimes when it’s smaller, people are more willing to help you and engage with you. When it comes to connecting with young individuals, I’m very informal about it. I’m not trying to sell anyone anything, I’d just let them know here’s what I’m doing and see if they’d like to be involve. Real life connections are essential and a great thing to have.
Last piece of advice is don’t sweat the little things and just start going. You read all these pieces about identifying mistakes and how they’re going to help you not make mistakes but the truth is, you’re going to make mistakes no matter how prepared you are. You’re going to have days where your project just seem like it’s going nowhere. You have to consistently convince yourself to go back into the project. Just tell yourself that if you made a mistake, you’ll learn from it. Eventually you’ll have made so many mistakes but still be going because you have the mentality to keep moving forward.
InternMatch would like to wish you the best of luck Luke on all your future endeavors! A big thank you for sharing your story. We hope you readers got a good look at starting your own online service sharing community, or any kind of side project. Until next time!