While attending the 100 Black Men of America’s 23rd Annual Conference in New York last week, I overheard Alvin Hartley speaking to several young men about using their knowledge of the Web to create a business. “Young people are so bright, they know how to use the Internet, but they don’t know how to use the Internet to make money,” says Hartley, president of HBCU Bus Tours, an organization that connects college bound students to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
As conference panels wrapped up for the day, Hartley exposed several young men to a few novel ideas about how they can use the Web to generate revenue and increase their visibility to prospective colleges.
Eventbright.com: A number of successful businessmen got their start in party promotions and event planning, from Sean “Diddy” Combs to Keith Clinkscales, a senior vice president at ESPN. Eventbright.com allows promoters to sell tickets in advance online.
There is a 2.5% fee per transaction, which any savvy entrepreneur would allow the consumer to absorb. To ramp up sales, you can discount advance tickets or double the door price, that way potential attendees will have a greater incentive to purchase tickets online.
What’s practically ingenious about this Web service is that it allows sellers to maintain a spreadsheet of patrons and their contact information, hence building a network. As you continue to hold events — i.e. talent shows, parties, fashion shows, etc. — you can tap into an already established database while adding to the network.
Sellers must have checking and PayPal accounts to use the program. Money from ticket sales are transferred to your PayPal account instantly, bringing me to Hartley’s next Web tool:
PayPal.com: While this online payment service is old news to eBay users and online shoppers, Hartley presents a novel idea for young people looking to bring in extra cash. “You can use a PayPal account to provide services such as tutoring or setting invoices for chores,” he says. Instead of waiting for Mr. Brown down the block to pay you for that yard work, he can put a deposit down using PayPal or make the entire payment online. Depending on your service or product you may be able to expand nationally or even globally. For young adults lacking a business plan, “once you know how you can receive money you start to get pretty creative in how you can make money,” Hartley says. There is a credit card processing fee, which can also be absorbed by the client.
HBCUBusTours.com: This resource is not exactly a means to make money, but with all the business acumen you build via PayPal and Eventbrite, you’ll need a good school to help refine your talent. HBCU Bus Tours allows students to connection with black colleges around the country. Set up is simple; just create a user profile, similar to what you may have on Facebook –but a tad more professional.
“This Website is the first site of its kind that links students, families, high school counselors and organizations directly to admissions offices,” Hartley says. The site allows you to interact with professionals and university administrators via forums and blogs. There is also tons of scholarship information and the chance to sign up for one of the company’s nationwide bus tour.
Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at BlackEnterprise.com.