Networking can be challenging for many, especially entrepreneurs. But a University of Saskatchewan student and a University of Regina student aim to simplify it.
PushStart is a social media startup for entrepreneurs, business people and students to network with one another, according to first-year law student and co-founder Levi Perrault. Talha Babar, co-founder and a University of Regina student, says that he was doing a coding project on the side when he realized that he may have a startup idea.
“I met up with [Perrault] and I said, ‘Hey, I got this awesome idea; you got to hear this,’” Babar said. “He was just absolutely floored, and we went with it.”
Perrault says that in his experience as an entrepreneur, it is a challenge to network and find mentors in the business field.
“Sometimes as students, it’s a little bit intimidating … to break the ice, cold calling people saying, ‘Hey, can you help me? Can you give me advice?’” Perrault said. “It’s just very difficult.”
Perrault says that overcoming this hurdle was one of their motivations to create the social media platform.
“We [wanted to] create a community that will be positive, supportive,’” Perrault said. “Hopefully people will be willing to use it to interact and [have] businesses supporting businesses.”
With Saskatchewan locals being their main focus, they want to create a tight-knit community of business owners and other professionals in the province. Babar says that the startup will also be a platform to share stories.
“With PushStart, not only do people get to tell their story, but they get to have people come along with them and just ride along the journey,” Babar said.
The website launched in January 2020, and has 47 members so far. According to the website, it is built “in Saskatchewan, for Saskatchewan.” Their goal is to allow locals to showcase their talents and collaborate as a “province often overlooked” with “immense talent,” according to their website.
It also offers a simplified way of networking with others through PushCodes, one of the website’s features where members can share a QR code with other members at networking events.
Perrault says that the website is the “soft launch” of PushStart.
Perrault and Babar are currently securing funds and grants to build an app that will connect people better and incorporate a point-game system for users. Perrault says the points will come from users’ interactions with each other. They can then exchange the points for different perks from small businesses, like a 10 per cent discount from a partner coffee shop.
“It generates networking and encourages using the app while also providing some economic benefits to both the business and the user,” Perrault said.
The projected launch date for the app is late April, but it could change at a moment’s notice, according to Perrault.
The hope for PushStart, once the app is running, is to have a self-sustaining site just like Facebook or Instagram. Perrault says that they want to be in a future position where it is recommended by anyone because “everything you need and everyone you need, they’ll be right there.”
For Babar, he is excited to see the ideas and collaborations that PushStart members will bring.
“In Saskatchewan, it’s extremely inspiring; some of the people are doing these really innovative things,” Babar said. “To see a company come out from PushStart … that’d be amazing for us to see in the future.”
J.C. Balicanta Narag | Editor-in-Chief
Photos: Supplied | Talha Babar, Nicholas Saretzky |Contributing Photojournalist