Got Talent? Get Paid: Bistara Helps Students Spread Their Talent



What if there was a way for college students to easily earn money from their creative talents? Two local, entrepreneurial students wanted to find a way for students to directly benefit from doing what they love, which led them to devise an ambitious goal.  


Maya Rafie, 20, from Emerson College, and Zac DelVecchio, 22, from Berklee College of Music, imagined a place where college students could easily become independent freelancers and get paid for their services by local clients. They created bistara, an online platform where students can upload their resumes and portfolios in an effort to link them to paying customers.


In Bengali, the native language spoken in Bangladesh, “bistara”, means “to spread”. “For us that means providing students with the opportunity to spread their talent,” said Rafie.


If companies or individuals want to hire a student freelancer, all they have to do is create an account. Since their launch date on Wednesday Oct. 7, 86 freelancers from 27 different colleges around Boston have enrolled.


“Bistara is the world’s first college freelance marketplace that connects student freelancers and communities nationwide,” Said Rafie.  


Any student can sign up. “All you have to do is upload your photos, your resume, your picture, your videos, your audio, whatever you want to showcase,” said DelVecchio.


Students will also have access to other students’ profiles with the intention that they would be able to cross-collaborate.


“Not only do students get the chance to make money and build their portfolio, but they also get the opportunity to grow and be their own boss. Students can kind of learn how to brand themselves by being freelancers,” said 21 year old Northeastern Student and bistara’s manager of Social Media Operations, Lina Fahmy.


It all started with the simple idea of connecting freelance musicians from Emerson and Berklee to paying clients, “We started growing the idea, we tested it and we realized it worked.” DelVecchio said, “Then we slowly started realizing the problem exists not just between Emerson and Berklee, it existed everywhere.”


Too often, said DelVecchio, talented students have no reliable opportunity to get a job in the field they are passionate about. Bistara is an effort to bridge the gap between creativity and sustainable income. All fields from cooking to graphic design and photography to repairs are welcome.


“We’re encouraging young entrepreneurs to be their own boss.” said Rafie. Student freelancers determine their charge per service and clients pay up front. “You can charge what you’re worth. Bistara’s primary responsibility is to make sure student freelancers can get jobs.”


Bistara takes 10% commission from each processed payment.


Bistara will soon be launching tips and advice to help guide freelancers to market themselves effectively. The company’s model includes an online rating system where clients can rate the service provider’s skills and their ability to work professionally.


Delvecchio and Rafie said that even students can hire other students. For example, a student chef could be hired to cater another student’s event more affordably.


“I have friends everyday who tell me they’re afraid they won’t find a job and it’s like how? Why? That’s not fair at all!” DelVecchio said. “So we’ve created this whole leveling of the playing field. You can make your own job. It’s 2015. There’s this amazing world to do whatever you want now.”