Student Entrepreneurs Fill Talent Gap with ‘Swap For Skills’

Swap for Skils founders Felisha Liu and Deirdre Amola. [Photo by Dabney Lyles.]

Is your startup stuck?  Try a swap.

Swap for Skills allows entrepreneurs to trade professional services like bookkeeping, web design, and other skills, quickly and easily through the Swap for Skills website. The venture is a new startup created by Felisha Liu and Deirdre Amola, graduate students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

“It’s kind a novel concept for entrepreneurs,” says Amola. “But, once they join the site, they pick it up.”

The genesis for Swap for Skills emerged while the co-founders were working on a different entrepreneurial venture at a coffee shop. They soon realized that they needed additional people with other skills and talents, which they lacked, to launch their plans.

“Deirdre and I are MBA students so we have a lot of business expertise, but, unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of design and technical expertise,” says Liu. “We’ve been able to work with other people who have that expertise and we’re hoping to be able to formalize that into a more structured network.”

The effort to create that structured network turned into an on-line platform to assist other startups in need of talent. Swap for Skills enables entrepreneurs to help one another by exchanging skills difficult to find without conducting a broad, time-consuming search. It also helps to cut down on hiring costs. Swap for Skills, says the co-founders, helps to prevent entrepreneurial projects from becoming derailed or abandoned.

Liu and Amola are looking for other local startups in the early stages of development. Sources to fill their roster of “skills for swap” come from connections made at the Chicago Booth business school ― known for its entrepreneurial curriculum ― and from starting entrepreneurs they meet at 1871, a technology co-working space located in The Merchandise Mart, where they go each week to gather new names.

As entrepreneurs, Liu and Amola know, firsthand, that starting a company is a challenge. Swap for Skills, they say, can help turn some of those early hurdles into wins. ❒

[Photo of Felisha Liu and Deirdre Amola by Dabney Lyles. © Blackline Review.]

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