ZEIT Online and Marc Drüner, Professor for Marketing and Innovation Management at the School of Management and Innovation (SMI) at Steinbeis University Berlin, have launched the online platform 15Talents.com as part of a joint venture. 15Talents is a project marketplace for companies and students: it allows companies to outsource projects to students, simply and flexibly, and so profit from the extensive knowledge and skills they have gained through college, practical placements and extracurricular activities.
As such, 15Talents provides a service not yet available in the German market. Although there are already a few online project marketplaces for freelancers and trades people, for instance, cooperation between companies and students has previously been limited to established forms such as diploma projects and practical placements. “15Talents has discovered an exciting and highly promising niche,” says Marc Drüner. “Students can use 15Talents to gain work experience and put their skills and knowledge into practice. While companies benefit in terms of short-term projects, and they are also able to use it to recruit.”
Using 15Talents, companies can save a considerable amount of time and resources when establishing project partners. Instead of having to prepare several weeks or months in advance, companies can place a project on the platform practically as soon as the need arises, and students with the appropriate knowledge and skills respond within a few days. 15Talents is therefore a particularly valuable alternative when it comes to short-notice tasks for which there are no resources available in the company.
Once the company has published a project on 15Talents, specifying the amount of work required and the financial reward, an innovative matching algorithm finds students whose skills and abilities best match those required for the project. From this initial selection, the company can choose one or more suitable students to work on the project – only a few days after having first entered it on the platform. 15Talents also allows companies to establish early contacts with students from all subject areas, which may even become long-term, as the case may be.
For 15Talents, the quality of the online platform is of central importance in meeting the high demands of companies and students. This is why not just anyone can register to use it. Students can only obtain access to the online marketplace if invited by an existing member, if they apply to register on the website, or via one of the exclusive invitation codes handed out by 15Talents through certain student initiatives and study courses. Since it launched in May, more than 8000 students and over 90 companies have registered.
Companies and students can both profit from the online marketplace 15Talents.com – so say Dr. Rainer Esser, managing director of the ZEIT publishing house, and Marc Drüner, professor at the Steinbeis University Berlin. TRANSFER discusses the new platform with its creators.
Dr. Esser, why is ZEIT Online involved in 15Talents?
We liked the idea right from the start – it’s excellent, very forward-looking, and we think it fills an interesting niche in the market. It’s currently the only online marketplace allowing company projects to be completed by students. We’re particularly interested in students with above-average levels of commitment and talent, which is why 15Talents fits in wonderfully with our existing activities in the university market: we’ve been publishing the student magazine ZEIT CAMPUS every two months since 2006, and it also has daily reports online. As well as our activities in print, we’ve expanded our university events in recent years, to include things like panel discussions offering careers advice, political debates, and entertaining talks with prominent figures.
Professor Drüner, what benefits can 15Talents offer companies and students?
Students can use 15Talents to gain valuable practical experience, and earn money to pay their rent at the same time. Companies can make use of students’ skills on a flexible, short-term basis. On top of this, it’s also a good way for both sides to get to know each other, and ask questions like “Is this student suitable for an entry position?” or “Is this company an interesting employer?”
Dr. Esser, why are students so important to you?
Students have always been an important target group for us. Traditionally, DIE ZEIT has a strong standing in universities. We want students to start reading DIE ZEIT at university and stay with us after graduating.
Professor Drüner, is 15Talents directed towards students studying particular subjects?
No. We’re interested in students of all subjects. It’s all about what the companies require – and they’re usually looking for highly specialized students. The reactions we’ve had so far from companies as well as students have shown us that our approach is the right one.