Whurk has been steadily growing its college student “whurkforce” over its first school year and now has reps on more than 3,000 college campuses. The Bend startup, which aims to innovate campus rep programs for brands, has also grown its client list to include some local favs such as Hydro Flask and Straw Propeller, as well as Clif Bar, JLAB Audio, Uber and more.
To review, whurk signs up an army of college students who are willing to help advocate for brands on their campuses. In return, they earn cash or prizes for each task. And the whole deal is managed through whurk’s software platform. Rob Dumas, whurk’s founder and CEO, says the company averages a 96% completion rate by students for its whurk orders, while the industry average is closer to 30%.
Why so high for whurk? The founder notes that a couple factors make whurk’s model work including that the tasks are easy to complete. Instead of requiring students to sign up for a semester’s worth of repping for a brand, which is how companies have worked their programs in the past, whurk assignments take a couple hours. The students can opt in or out based on their schedule. “Also the app steps the whurkforce through the process,” Dumas says. “They can’t earn the reward until completed.”
Bend-based Hydro Flask used whurk reps to help increase awareness of its water bottles at 14 Southern California campuses. Leanne Champion, Hydro Flask’s director of marketing, says they noticed an immediate uptick in their social media metrics during the projects.
For one, students simply distributed Hydro Flasks to their peers; with the other, they put ice in a Hydro Flask, closed it and then opened it 24 hours later to reveal … ice. Because Hydro Flasks stay chilly people. That’s their thing. The whurk reps posted pics of the ice challenge on social media — and they spread.
“What we wanted to do was create some excitement,” Champion says. “Southern California is now rising to the top in terms of awareness for us.”
In addition to watching the campaign take off among the networks of the students completing the ice challenge, Champion says she was pleasantly surprised to see that other whurk campus reps at other schools picked up the posts and shared them too, giving the campaign even more horsepower.
“Every time we activated (a whurk order) we saw a jump in social,” she says.
For this upcoming year, whurk is focused on building its staff, growing its base of brands and reps and of course, revenue. Dumas raised a seed round of $500,000 last year. He is considering raising another $2 million to $3 million in 2016. In the meantime, the company aims to make three or four hires in the coming months, and is currently searching for a Chief Growth Officer.
You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].