William Armstrong, a UA freshman business student, started a company called “Yaardvark” last fall and entered it in the Student Startup Madness (SSM) competition. Now he’s one of 32 finalists.
SSM is a nationwide digital media startup tournament for college students. Armstrong and his teammate, fellow UA business student Charles Combest, have already made it through the first two rounds of the national tournament. Of the 32 finalists, they are the only team from Ohio. Armstrong hopes this competition will help grow his business.
To enter the competition, every team had to provide a formal business plan which covered the many aspects of a business along with company financial projections. The UA team created its business plan with the help of Robert Chalfant, director of the UA’s Fitzgerald Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.
Yaardvark is digital media because it works through its website that matches students to homeowners in the community who need some help around their yard. It offers services such as raking leaves, weeding, planting flowers, laying mulch, and mowing lawns.
“By using Yaardvark, a student can earn an excellent wage while working a schedule that they create. On the other hand, homeowners who use the website can save a lot of money by hiring a student over a professional landscaper,” Armstrong said. “This is also a great way to help students make money in order to pay for school”.
Yaardvark started on Aug. 12, 2015. Armstrong wanted to create a website that made it easier for homeowners to find someone to hire for yard work. For the past four years, he has worked during the summer doing yard work for about 20 homeowners in his hometown, Kirtland, Ohio, and other surrounding cities.
“The homeowners I worked for not only hired me because I was less expensive than a professional, but also because they liked that I was from the same community,” Armstrong said. At the end of the summer, Armstrong was off to college, leaving the homeowners to search for someone to take his place.
“Most of the people I worked for asked if I knew any kids in the local high school who could replace me, but I could not think of anyone I knew,” he said. “That’s when the idea of Yaardvark sparked.”
He wanted to create a website in which homeowners could easily post yard work jobs and where students could easily find work.
“Personally, I love yard work because it pays well and offers you the ability to create a schedule that works around you,” Armstrong said.
Since last August, the business idea and website have grown and improved. After being published in his city’s newspaper, The Kirtland Chronicle, 20 homeowners in his community posted yard work jobs offering wages up to $20/hr to students.
Since August, Armstrong has also appeared on WKYC news and The University of Akron’s homepage.
Armstrong’s goal is to spread Yaardvark throughout Ohio and to eventually have it spread across the US. “I will also be entering more competitions and hope to gain some more exposure there,” he said.
“If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to tell people about it and if you strongly believe in it, don’t be afraid to pursue it. Don’t be afraid of failure because the only way to succeed is to try,” Armstrong said.
More information about Yaardvark can be found on its website, yaardvarkinc.com, and its social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), all at yaardvarkinc.com.