Campus Crew open for business
University of St. Thomas student Zachary Taylor says he was raised to make a difference, and he’s doing just that with his new student-driven business, Campus Crew. The fledgling entrepreneur aims to pair students who need money (and don’t they all?) with neighbors who need chores done, whether raking a lawn, shoveling a sidewalk or painting a room.
“I’ve always wanted to help people,” explains Taylor, 20, the middle child of seven siblings raised in Coon Rapids, Minn. “I was going to study something in the healthcare field, but then I decided to go for biomedical engineering. I like to build things, to construct things.”
Taylor and two fellow undergraduate students — Mary Grace Flesher and Mike Hermann — created Campus Crew as an assignment for an entrepreneurship class they took last year. Professor Jay Ebben asked students to write a business plan that allowed them to reach revenue goals by the end of the semester.
The one restriction? “No food businesses, because anybody can go to a store, buy a product and sell it as their own,” says Taylor. Ironically, he notes, Professor Ebben dubbed the class project “lemonade stands.”
Campus Crew has both student- and neighborhood-centered goals.
- For students, of course, the goal is to help them earn money at a job that is walking distance from campus. “Their schoolwork and extracurricular activities don’t always allow them to work at a job for multiple hours at a time,” the Tommies wrote in their business plan. “With Campus Crew a student can complete one hour of work for at least twice the pay of a minimum-wage job.”
- For neighbors, the objective is to help elderly folks or employed parents or residents who aren’t handy keep up their houses, apartments and yards in a neighborhood that prides itself on well-tended livability.
Rates range from $12 to $20 an hour, depending on the service. A website helps neighbors get the feel of the business. And Taylor is working with both the Mac-Groveland Community Council and Union Park District Council to reach neighbors as well.
Taylor credits Flesher and Hermann, his co-founders, with the ambitious vision that Campus Crew hopes it can achieve. “Our eventual goal is to expand to other campuses,” he says, especially nearby Macalester College and St. Catherine University.