March 10, 2012
I wish Rock Your Block existed when I was in high school. (Of course, there was no Internet then, so that is truly wishful thinking….) This Minneapolis-based startup has developed an online and mobile location-based application that helps 13-17 year-olds find neighborhood jobs, part-time work and internship opportunities within their community. They are moving the old-school method of posting fliers in neighborhood shops to social media.
Yes, there are a bunch of competitors in this space – namely TaskRabbit, SnagAJob, and SitterCity – but Rock Your Block stands out thanks to their integration with Facebook and other social networks. The Rock Your Block app lets teens build a dynamic virtual resume, browse job listings in their network, and announce their candidacy for employment.
As Rock Your Block’s founder and CEO Sarah Young told me,
“Teen unemployment is at an all-time high right now across the nation, three times the national rate. The majority of people and companies want to help the next generation learn the value of hard work and responsibility in addition to create job opportunities for them but don’t know where to begin.”
The best feature: As teens gain work experience, their Rock Your Block resume grows, showing: jobs completed, achievements and certifications earned, and recommendations from employers. There is also a gaming component, where users can earn stars and “level-up” in status by gaining experience, completing specific activities, and referring friends.
Currently only available in the Twin Cities, they plan on expanding to cities like Milwaukee and Chicago in year 2 before rolling out nationwide in year 3. The plan is to grow methodically. As Young said, “New markets will only be tackled when significant key partnerships can be secured – schools, community organizations, and neighborhood associations that have a strong member base who would benefit from Rock Your Block’s services.”
Because Minneapolis is not known as a tech hub, I had to ask Young about the startup community there. The answer might surprise you:
“Not only is there a tight-knit group of founders who continually stimulate the local startup companies, there is a vibrant new wave of budding entrepreneurs always entering the local start-up community. The drive to develop technical ideas into businesses is phenomenal.
“Our company started from the first Startup Weekend that was held in the Twin Cities in 2010, which was purported to be the largest inaugural Startup Weekend in any city in the United States at the time. This level of excitement surrounding entrepreneurship consistently extends to other events and gatherings across the region.”
Rock Your Block will be at our Tech Cocktail SXSW #StartupLife Celebration tonight, so be sure to stop by and say hi – and maybe learn more about starting up in Minneapolis.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Vitrue, a sponsor of our #Startuplife Celebration and Tech Cocktail’s special SXSW video series. Check out Vitrue’s live daily updates from SXSW!
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