Startup and Business Ideas for College Students
Starting a business in college can be a great way to make a living and pay for your way through school, if you do it right. Or, if you’re inspired by other great entrepreneurs who met their co-founders and launched the next biggest fortune 500 company, then starting a business in University may be your calling.
The great thing about business ideas for college students is that campuses can be the perfect place to validate a product or service offering too.
We are going to go over 17 business ideas. There is also both a range of small and large scale business ideas.
1. Voice-enhancement app
The voice-enhancement app would be a fun and cool app that people could download and use to enhance their voices for voice messaging. It would utilize their already installed messaging app, such as iMessage, and allow people to enhance their voices in cool and interesting ways, clip their audio files, and other fun features. They say audio is the next big thing as more and more people use it to type out texts, send regular voice messages, and use voice devices like the Amazon Alexa.
One co-founder would need to have a strong background in coding and software development, but this could easily be developed and launched from a college dorm room. If you wanted to take a different route, this could also be possibly created into an app that people could use. This idea would be worth validating if you want to try and create the next big social business idea!
2. Dorm cleaning service
Some people in college and university really miss having their parents or home maids clean their rooms. Now that they are at university, they may not want to clean their dorms by themselves. Leaving the perfect opportunity for you to charge them a fee to clean up the room.
It would be easy to do as you can simply market the business by going door to door in dorm buildings. Startup costs would also be very low since it costs could consist of cleaning supplies and a business license. After a while, and if you have a consistent clientele base, you could look into hiring other students to do the cleaning for you. The great thing about this idea is that it could be started from almost any college or university, and has the opportunity for expansion.
3. On-campus delivery service
There are many delivery services established that will delivery goods, packages, and food around cities, however, there are no or very few services that will deliver goods across campus. A professor may need a suit from the school dry cleaner delivered to the lecture hall. Or a group of students may need a bunch of food delivered to their dorms from the cafeteria. Saving them time so they can study. This would also be another business idea for college students that would be low-cost to start. You’d only need a bike, a strong bag for transporting things, and potentially a GPS if it was a large campus. This business idea could easily be expanded across other schools if you wanted to grow this idea beyond your own college.
4. Add-on online courses for college classes
If you have a strong interest and specialty in a set of college courses, you could create an online and easy to follow set of video courses that others could watch and learn from. Sometimes students need to hear the course information in different ways than the professor presents it, to fully understand the material.
Be careful though that you don’t copy the courses you just took, otherwise you could end up in legal trouble with the college. Your courses would have to have a different spin on how the material is taught. They could pay a simple fee for each course or a package deal if there were multiple courses. A background in video editing and course creation would come in very handy.
“Our extremely conservative estimate for the global tutoring industry is that it’s worth $100 billion (annually),” said Julian Dierkes, a professor with the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia (Source).
5. Language transcription service
If you are at a college or university abroad in a different country where they speak different languages, and you know both your home language and the native language in that country, you can start a transcription service.
By setting up a website where other people or companies can upload documents in one language, you could have an online portal of work that you can do in your dorm. When they upload it to your website, you could work on it, transcribe the document to their needs, and then send it back to them over your portal and a fee would be taken. This would be a great way to set it up so you don’t spend your precious time dealing with mail and hardcopy documents.
Again, this idea can grow into a large company if you hired other students to expand your workforce.
6. Research paper writing company
If you love to write and have a strength in writing research papers, this business idea for college could be perfect for you. Similar to the idea above, you could setup a website where other students from different universities around the state or country could send in their research paper requests, along with deposits for the work.
Then you could write the paper from the comfort of your dorm room and charge a fee for the end work. Many of these students will pay big money for a great finished product as it means they get a good grade when they really needed it.
However, one thing to watch out for is that some colleges and universities have policies about helping students in this manner. This is another idea that could grow with the help of other students.
7. Furniture Lending Service
Many college and university students move to their dorms with furniture specifically designed for their new room. But after a year they often end up throwing it out or selling it for pennies on the dollar as it usually does not accommodate other places well, and students don’t have time to sell the furniture. This means the students or their parents have wasted a lot of money on custom furniture of their dorm.
This college business idea would help stop that by allowing students to rent their dorm furniture. By working with local furniture shops around each campus, you can design furniture for each room and then charge a monthly or yearly fee to students. You could advertise to them online through Facebook or Instagram or Google to get them to know about your service before they come to the school.
8. Virtual assistant – professor niche
The virtual assistant is a great business model for college students as you can operate this business from your dorm room or house. As a virtual assistant, you would help other businesses and professionals with their online needs. This may be converting datasets in excel, transcribing audio, or simple data entry.
However, due to the current market competition for general virtual assistants, you could change your offerings to fit professors and college teachers. You could provide marking services, presentation preparation and development, and other tasks a professor would need done.
9. University/ College entrance consultant
As a new college or university student, you may now be qualified to help others get accepted into the schools you got accepted to when you were in high school. If you applied to several schools and got into them all, this will broaden your credibility.
For this business idea, you could set up a consulting service for wealthy families to coach their teen through the process of applying and getting accepted to their school of choice. A deposit for the work done, and a fee for the acceptance could be a good way to setup the payment systems. This could also be done online if you have the email packages and a great video calling system.
10. Senior companion service
There is no doubt that the 65+ community is growing around the globe. In some areas of the world, that group is poised to be the fastest growing demographic in the area! Meaning they will have a huge impact on business. If you are attending school in a place with a high senior’s population, this could be a great fit for you.
By advertising to the local communities about your service, you could charge a monthly fee to go and hangout with a single or group of seniors for the afternoon or evening. Possibly running chores for them in case they can’t or their family couldn’t anymore. This service would also have great potential to expand, as you can hire other students to take various shifts, and it would be a great way for them to meet others in the community while getting paid.
11. Textbook exchange service
The textbook exchange service is a classic college business idea that is hard to start and grow, but if done right, can have major rewards. This service would involve setting up an app or website where people from a certain school could upload their used textbooks for others to be able to buy or rent them.
Where this idea usually fails is that at the launch due to low stocks of the needed textbooks, and then the textbook buying season buys and the company runs out of money to sustain until the next semester.
If you are able to set up this website or exchange in advance with a great stock of textbooks, this would increase your chances of success. Similarly, if you chatted with the professors and teachers to confirm older versions of the textbook could be used for class, it would give students confidence that they can get the used book and still succeed.
This would be a great business to run as most of the work would be needed before the new semester, before any large assignments in class.
12. Notes Digitization service
If you can type fast, you could offer a note digitization service to other students, teachers, or university staff. This service could be charged on a per-word basis for you to type up handwritten notes into word documents, excel sheets, or even powerpoints.
If you like dealing with people in person and don’t want to run a business that is completely based online, this may be a great service for you to run. There would be a human interaction component, as you would always need to pick up the notes since they are a hard copy.
13. Dorm room greens service
I’m talking greens.
Many students want to have plants in their dorm, but may fail to keep them healthy, or simply throw them out after. Instead, you could offer a service where you can deliver and water the plants for them. Every few weeks or months, the plants could be switched out to a different plant at the student’s preference. You could also see if you could get help from the school to fund this since, as it would be costlier to startup with all the costs of plants, containers, soil, etc. Payments could be set up on a one-time or monthly subscription.
14. Campus electric scooter rentals
Campus committing doesn’t have to be boring and with this service, it won’t. The campus electric scooter rental would have 5-10 electric and push scooter racks located at various strategic points on campus. Students could then rent them for a per minute or single-use fee to get to their classes.
This is another larger scale business idea as the scooters would an expensive initial investment, but it has the potential to grow as you can expand to large cities with huge campuses.
15. Care-package subscription service
Many new university and college students miss home when they first move to school. And their parents miss taking care of them! This service would help solve that problem as parents could buy their kids care packages that could be delivered at certain times of the year. That way, the students don’t get as home-sick and they also get a great and healthy packed box of goods.
This business could partner with local food chains and suppliers as it would help them get their name out as well, so supplies could be cheaper or even free. Secondly, the willingness to pay by many families may be quite high, so the price point could be higher than most other subscription box services.
16. New grad employment consulting service
Graduating from college or university can be very intimidating. Especially for those whos programs didn’t prepare them to get a job when they left their studies. This is a nightmare reality that many new grads face, and many of them end up getting a job completely unrelated to their studies just to pay the bills.
This is another college business idea that could be potentially funded by the university, as it gives the institution a good reputation of helping their students and their alumni landing job opportunities. To start this, you could put together a resume and cover letter training packages, as well as mock interviews and other classes related to getting the job in the field they want. A single class-fee could be charged here.
Although the employment rates have returned to their 2007 average, there are millions of graduates every year, so 2% to 4% of 10 million is a healthy market size of around 300,000 people that could use your help. This idea could also be adjusted for high school students that need a job, as that market is larger and would be a good place to expand.
17. The ethical phone company
The large phone producers like Apple, Samsung, and Google continue to push the boundaries of what is acceptable for a company to do to its consumers. From purposefully draining and gaming the batteries phone life around the launch time of new phones, and the unethical pricing you’ll pay to get your device repaired, it is time someone start an ethical phone company.
This company would involve creating a phone that is not $1,000, but instead around $300-$500, with parts that can be interchanged and replaced as needed. Additionally, parts wouldn’t be made for the purpose to break in 6 months either. This phone company would be ethical, and that could appeal to a very large mass market across the world.
It would also be a great business idea to start in college because you may have access to students in other programs like computer science and engineering so they could help you make this a reality.
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