TCNJ students’ app enlists college kids to do random chores
EWING — Juggling a full load of classes at a school like The College of New Jersey is hard enough, but add to that a full-time job and a leadership position within a fraternity, and you'd barely have time to breathe, let alone have the energy to take care of everyday tasks like laundry and dishes.
That's the situation Tyler Gambardella of Dumont, a senior at TCNJ, found himself in last year. But thanks to his and other students' ingenuity, there will soon be an app for that.
"I thought to myself, there's got to be something out there that allows me to just quickly hire someone for a little chore or errand," Gambardella said, adding that his increasingly frequent texts to roommates, asking them to pick up groceries for him or throw a load of his dirty clothes in the wash, were getting annoying ... not to mention expensive.
That is where the idea for the app Handl, a beta version of which is launching at TCNJ this September, came from. It's already taken home top prize in the school's Mayo Business Plan Competition, and if all goes well, a full launch will follow in October. Gambardella's hope is that the Ewing area will be just the start, and that the concept will grow to other college towns in New Jersey and beyond.
The concept is similar to something like Uber, Gambardella said, with college students ("Handlers") at the ready to carry out random tasks. For those students, the benefit is picking up some extra work that doesn't take too much time or effort, helping many defray the costs of food, rent, or textbooks.
"We're marketing to anyone who is 30-plus, homeowner, parent, with responsibilities, working professionals who are strapped for time but are financially comfortable," he said.
Gambardella is not alone in this effort. At the urging of a professor who championed his idea, he brought on Carolina Gamarra, a marketing major, and Patrick Monaghan, an interactive multimedia major, to provide expertise in other areas of Handl's development.
In Gamarra's case, helping out was a no-brainer. The rising senior from North Bergen already knew Gambardella, so she called him to set up an interview. Together, they and Monaghan will try to answer the basic question of, "How are you going to provide a service that helps people?"
The process has gone from pipe dream to tangible reality very quickly.
"Actually presenting in front of investors, and now reaching out to even more investors, and figuring out what we're going to do next, actually putting this plan into action, it's really surreal," Gamarra said.
Gamarra's friends have already asked her when they can start being Handlers. She knows that kind of involvement and chatter on campus will be essential to getting Handl off the ground.
As for Gambardella, he has one more semester to complete in the fall. He'll still have his full-time job, but running the app will command a lot of his time as well. So, he still may need help with those dirty clothes and groceries.
But now, he'll know where to turn.
Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. He graduated from TCNJ in 2009 and could really have used an app like this back then. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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