Fayetteville entrepreneur Omar Kasim and Tyler Tracy, a student at the University of Arkansas, have launched a new startup called Sider to mobilize college students and assist businesses struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kasim, who founded a cold-pressed juice bar called Juice Palm in 2017, says businesses are facing difficult financial decisions because of the pandemic — suspend operations and wait the storm out, or risk investing in modernizing practices in order to adapt to a new landscape.
He says the solution offered by Sider connects businesses with a pool of talent that could assist them at a low cost: college students.
“When I started my first restaurant, I didn’t have the luxury of hiring professionals to do our marketing or design work,” Kasim explained. “I used students for our logo, photos and graphic design. I was so impressed with the quality of work, I kept using students every opportunity I could.”
For students, Kasim said, gaining experience can be difficult due to limited opportunities and schedule restrictions. By making it easier to freelance, Sider gives students the ability to connect with companies and gain experience on their schedule.
Communication, services and payment all take place online. Students also receive reviews and can build out their portfolio on the platform. Sider has already onboarded hundreds of students and is ramping up its acquisition efforts to connect more businesses with student freelancers.
Kasim said it launched at the University of Arkansas, with plans to expand across the state by the end of the year.
The service is available at sider.app. Kasim said the app is also available for Android and iOS downloads.