RateMyPlacement: Alastair Lindsay
Alastair Lindsay, Ben Smith, Chris Wickson and Oliver Sidwell on starting their student website
Company name: R M P Enterprise LTD
Founders: Alastair Lindsay, Ben Smith, Chris Wickson, Oliver Sidwell
Age: all 23
Based: SE (London, Reading
Date started: 12 March 2007
Tell us what your business does
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RateMyPlacement is a student-run website which is community focused on all aspects of placements and internships, and gives students a chance to review their placement and internship experiences. The rising need for skilled and experienced graduates has led to increasing numbers of employers turning to placements and internships, and it is here that we are confident we have discovered a relatively lucrative niche market. There are over 500 companies in the UK alone that employ students, and we offer them the chance to advertise and feature on our website, which gives them the opportunity to reach their exact target market.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The idea came from our own experiences while we were on placements in 2005/06. We felt there was a real information gap – students were applying for jobs with no true, first hand information. Our website fills that information gap.
How will you differentiate yourself from the competition?
After we did some research, we discovered there were no existing companies in the graduate recruitment sphere who sought feedback from employees, and there were few websites dedicated to placements and internships. When we speak to contacts in the industry, the first question is always, ‘what happens if a company receives a bad review?’ but we maintain that if a company is a good employer then it has nothing to hide, which is exactly how a lot of employers see RateMyPlacement – there’s no better advert for your company than having students singing your praises.
How have you promoted your business?
As we’re recent graduates ourselves, we know what attracts students, and how to reach them. The reviews really draw the students, and we quickly realised that without these, we had no real ‘pull’. We therefore offer students the incentive of up to £10 in music vouchers for leaving a review, which has been a great success.
We play the student card as often as possible, and have managed to secure stands at two national student recruitment exhibitions free of charge, which allowed us to reach over 1000 students. We’ve also set up affiliate marketing schemes with other businesses and websites that attract students. More recently, we ran a viral e-mail campaign which reached over 5,000 recipients in just three weeks.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
The main tip I would give to a student entrepreneur is to just give it a go. If your idea is half good, your university will give you a lot of support and advice, and they may even be able to point you in the direction of some funding for your business. There are a number of organisations and competitions out there that are willing to give student businesses money with no share of equity.