College is a great time to start a business.  Majority of the time, food and rent are paid for (go meal plans!), and you usually have some extra time on your hands.  It’s in college that you really start to realize what you’re good at more importantly, what you like doing.  College is when I realized what I hated with a passion…research.  Being able to do research in a timely manner is a crucial skill in college, and I was seriously lacking in that area.  I’d be in the library for hours trying to research something and I’d see my friends zipping through it.  Solution? Let someone else do it.

Getting started

When I started working on, I knew I had certain skills that I was good at and others that well, I sucked at.  I hated research and organizational tasks with a passion.  I also didn’t have any programming skills.   During the first phase of Fit Campus while I was still a senior, I began using to outsource tasks. I found a virtual assistant on elance for a whopping $3 an hour to do research and other organizational tasks so I could focus on what I was good at.  I’d give her a list of tasks before I went to bed, and as I was heading to a morning class, I’d receive a pleasant surprise in my inbox.

After receiving research documents that were color coordinated and cited, I was convinced.  I even decided to have her do some research for my class work.  This meant spending less time on tasks I’m not programmed to be good at, and pouring my energy into ones that mattered.

Having such a great experience, I found a firm through to build the first version of Fit Campus for $350, not $5,000 like I thought.  I was able to build a site on my college-student budget, and release the first version of the product.

3 tips for outsourcing web projects.

  • Just get started.  Don’t worry about your idea being snatched, and don’t spend too much time worrying if everything is perfect. Focus on getting the first version up.
  • Be very specific about what you want. Use applications like Jing to take screenshots and make videos describing exactly what you want. Draw mockups on paper, scan them, and upload them to the site when communicating with those on elance.
  • Always negotiate. Once you post a job, you’ll have offers to complete the job for X amount of money. Offer them half that amount plus a raving review or a referral if the project goes well. Reviews are extremely valuable for them so it’s more than worth it. I used this tactic to get $1,000 off of a recent project.

Take away points:

Focus on what you’re good at, and outsource the tasks that you suck at.  Whether that’s handing off tasks to another co-founder or someone via elance, odesk, etc, your time is best spent doing what you’re good at.

If you have an idea for an app or product, don’t sit on it.  Post a description to elance with your budget.  You’ll be surprised to know that you can launch your idea and have it live within a matter of weeks, or even days.

Brent Gilmore is the co-founder of, a site for college students to track their workouts, compete with friends, and win rewards from healthy brands.