10/09/11 — Aycock grad's company in running for small business prize

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Aycock grad's company in running for small business prize

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 9, 2011 1:50 AM

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Vinay Kolluru's company, Jet Pitch, is one of 10 finalists in the America's Favorite Small Business competition.

You're the top student at a junior college far away from the companies in your field that are hiring, and although their recruiting officials visit hundreds of research university campuses across the country, they have no plans to come visit you.

Without an opportunity for the employer to see and hear from you personally, how can you hope to stand out as anything more than a name on an application?

Vinay Kolluru's suggestion: Create an opportunity for the employer to see and hear from you personally.

Kolluru, a 1999 graduate of Charles B. Aycock, is the co-founder of  Jet Pitch, a company targeting college students who otherwise wouldn't be able to connect directly with top employers either because of financial or geographical limitations and giving them an opportunity to put themselves on display for those hiring through short, personal pitches.

Jet Pitch could be described as a fusion of YouTube and LinkedIn, as users upload short videos of themselves discussing their career aspirations for employers to look through. Jet Pitch also provides assistance in creating professional-looking videos to help job candidates stand out even more while employers are able to view this video supplement to resumes from the comfort of their own offices.

Kolluru aims to connect employers to top students they otherwise wouldn't find, leveling the field between universities with large career fair budgets and smaller schools that produce similarly successful students but aren't frequent hosts to top companies.

"We try to feature some of the top students that are normally outside the scope in professionally done videos, which we release to companies on a subscription basis so that they can find talented candidates that wouldn't otherwise have been found," Kolluru said. "It's not like all of the top people are at the top schools and this is a good way to feature these people and bring them to companies without companies having to travel out to campus."

If Kolluru had any questions as to whether his business concept was a good one, he received confirmation from a few other successful businesses when Dell, Microsoft and MasterCard announced Jet Pitch was one of 10 finalists in their America's Favorite Small Business competition.

The winner will receive $25,000 in Dell products pre-loaded with Microsoft software and a $50,000 prepaid MasterCard and be featured in their own online reality show, all things that would be a big boost for Kolluru's company, which is what led him to enter his company into the contest.

As an enterprising company utilizing technology to help college students find jobs in one of the worst employment crises in the country's history, Kolluru felt it was an opportunity he couldn't turn down.

"This is the perfect fit to submit a video talking about how the company embodied the American dream," Kolluru said. "I put a lot into the video and put something together and put our hat in the ring and fortunately we heard back that the companies believed in our vision."

But now comes the part that's so nerve-wracking, he says, as the company is in a three-week voting battle online with nine other firms competing for the same prize.

"It's excruciating. You have to stay on it, have to stay active but it's exhausting," he said of not knowing his company's fate in the contest, though he hopes his company's vision, helping those who need jobs to find employers, speaks for itself.

"This is the perfect time for us to launch our business because companies are hurting, too," Kolluru says. "They're still hiring, but they're trying to do more with less. This allows them to utilize technology to increase the geographic reach of their recruiting efforts."

And Kolluru has a personal soft spot for those who attend small schools away from the hustle and bustle of industry. Before he got his computer science degree from North Carolina State University and his master's degree in business administration from Indiana University at Bloomington, he was a gifted math student in Wayne County who felt he was limited by his geography.

"It's always going to be a part of me, where I grew up. It's a small town, and you can't go too far without seeing someone you know," he said. "I love the place, but I always had this complex that I'm just from Goldsboro, but that doesn't mean that you can't strive to really make an impact on the entire world. It doesn't mean you're limited by geography or what you want to do. Finally I said why don't I just take a shot -- where I come from shouldn't affect my aspirations."

And although his company already works with students at 13 schools to reach hundreds of companies, Kolluru aims to, once again, break through the limits of geography in making his Raleigh-based company with roots in Wayne County into America's Favorite Small Business.

To vote for Jet Pitch and to learn more about the company, visit youtube.com/dellbusiness through Oct. 9.