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The Objective behind the Aspiration

The concept behind SearchMyCampus is pretty simple. A student needs a hostel near his campus, he logs on to the website, browses the existing notices for accommodation and in case he still can't find what he's looking for, he posts a notice advertising his need. Accommodation providers advertise their rooms, and reply to existing notices from students needing a place to stay. Similarly, a student thinks she's good at economics and could use some extra pocket money; she posts a notice offering tutoring services to other students in her campus. Other students who need help, view her notice and contact her. Thus, a channel of communication is created and mutual needs are fulfilled.

When we tell people that SearchMyCampus is an online campus noticeboard where students can publicize their needs to buy/sell merchandise or services, we get varied responses. The question we're asked most often is whether we're a social networking site, with 'oh it's like eBay or the Yellow Pages' being a close second. But I appeal to your good sense.

If any of these other sites are even half as effective as we are, I'll eat my hat! Can you find students looking to initiate a carpool on the Yellow Pages? How often do you come across students who've found hostels or even jobs on Orkut or Facebook? The purpose of SearchMyCampus is to provide merchandise/services that are relevant to students in campuses across India. And unlike any online marketplace, we leave it to the students to help each other meet their needs. We're a utility site so you won't find pokes, superpokes or even desipokes within miles of our site.

But we're hoping that's not what you're looking for when you log on to SearchMyCampus.com. We're hoping you're interested in starting up an NGO and you're looking for volunteers to help you do that. We're hoping you're an outstation student, planning to move to a different city for university, and looking for a place to stay when you get there.

We're even hoping you're an aspiring director, and are looking for students to star in your next movie. So getting to the point, what sets us apart from most other sites out there is that we're not just about the fun, we're about solving a long unmet need. Students need to be able to communicate with each other effectively to be able to create an interdependent community where they can help each other. We're not inviting a bunch of marketing managers from companies to plug their products here; we're helping students express their needs and help each other meet them.

What really sets us apart from these other sites is that we want to students to drive it forward. You're out of school, into college; you gotta start taking care of yourself right? Your mom isn't going to keep driving you to dance classes and cricket practice forever. You're gonna have to start finding ways of getting there yourself. Well, we're offering to help you find the way. Log on to SearchMyCampus, post an ad for a car pool, and get people together to commute to college everyday.

Students need to be able to understand their ability to help each other out, and recognize the value of SearchMyCampus to help them do it. We at SearchMyCampus very strongly believe that the Indian youth has all this potential just bursting to come out, only if it's given a chance. Heck, we may have retired from studenthood but we're youth too, and we definitely know our potential. We can't be a rare species now can we? So, if students in India were only given a chance to communicate with each other and help each other take care of themselves, we'd sure as hell have a revolution on our hands. Examples of entrepreneurial spirit and creative ability are already visible on the site.

Not only the users of the site, but even the students helping us bring it to the colleges are displaying remarkable enthusiasm and ability for innovation. From here it's only a small stretch of the imagination to believe that a venture like this could truly hold the key to empowering the youth of India, and changing the way they think about themselves and each other.

University of Pune Bangalore University IIIT Bombay

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