Each academic year, the second-year module Enterprise and Creativity, run by the Centre for Educational Enhancement and Development (CEED), assigns groups of students the task of forming their own businesses. This results in a yearly influx of interesting, student-run enterprises. Two of those currently being run aim to stand out by identifying and filling potential gaps in the student experience.
Nika Taleghani, Juliana Carlos, Avik Sanyal, Cara Patrick, and Saanvi Guliani are the founders of ‘Peared’, a service which organises blind dates for students. The group wanted to come up with something unique that would engage and benefit St Andrews students, and knew they wanted to establish something related to dating after some brainstorming.
“It was like, okay, how can we stand out compared to other enterprises and what can make us different from a dating app, which a lot of St Andrews students are actually on?” Taleghani said.
For the past few weeks, the Peared team has aimed to pique curiosity through Instagram. “We’ve done these fun, cheeky polls asking ‘What’s your type? Do you like it if the guy makes the first move or the girl makes the first move? What’s your ideal date spot in St Andrews?’” Taleghani said. They also posted Google forms to gauge interest, which, according to Taleghani, have received over 200 responses from prospective Peared participants.
Participants must first complete a short questionnaire that asks about their sexual orientation and personality, which the team will review before matching people accordingly. The first day of blind dates is taking place on 9 November at Tailend. Dates are staggered in a two-hour period so that all participants are not in Tailend at once. Tickets for the dates are £25 to cover the cost of the meal and Peared’s role in matchups.
Second-year Maia Brittingham will be attending the first Peared event. “The dating scene in St Andrews can be a little bit awkward. Everyone knows everyone”, she said.
Brittingham is somewhat nervous to meet her date, but is reassured by the nature of Peared. “I think everyone who’s signing up is obviously going into it being optimistic and looking forward to the event and just socialising in general”, she said, and sees this aspect of Peared as a positive.
“Meeting someone on a night out, for example, they might not have the same idea in mind”, Brittingham continued.
Taleghani encourages St Andrews students to take a leap of faith and participate in Peared’s blind dates. No matter how the dates turn out, she suggests Peared participants take pride in making a first step. “Your showing up to this event is already such a big thing and it’s so bold and so brave to do”.
Another new service designed by students for students is ‘The LunchBox’, which provides ready-to-cook meals at your door or pick-up locations every Wednesday.
The team is composed of Sophia Mauro, Tim Breuer, Ioana Gordea, Zoe Gudino, Lorenzo Gutierrez, Darya Tabbara, and Chen Yongchen, who started The LunchBox after realising a shared challenge amongst them was cooking as a student. The team said, “During our first meeting, we gathered around and discussed the various problems we personally faced. It didn't take long for us to realise that one significant issue affecting us and our friends was the daily chore of cooking, especially for those of us who no longer live in student halls. This conversation sparked the birth of ‘The Lunchbox’”.
Every week, The LunchBox website includes a form that offers two different entrees and a dessert, including vegetarian versions. Their website provides free recipes and video instructions. Each option ranges from £6 to £12 to make the meals affordable for university students. The team also sources the ingredients for these meals from local vendors such as Balgove Larder, Scott Brothers Butchers, The Tree, and Tailend.
“The Lunchbox's mission is all about improving the lives of students here in St Andrews. We've noticed that many of us struggle with not knowing what or even how to cook, leading to unhealthy meal choices, wasted time and money, and just an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Because of this, we wanted to come up with a solution that would inspire students to get into cooking and try out new things”, the team said.
Sustainability is also an important concern for the team. They told The Saint, “Most of the foods we buy are packed with excess packaging and have quite the carbon footprint. That's why we've been teaming up with local businesses to not only support local entrepreneurship but make sure we're being more eco-friendly too. We’re eliminating the long delivery and useless packaging”.
Even though these new businesses were initiated by an assignment, the enthusiasm for their projects extends beyond the classroom. The team at The Lunchbox said, “Although this enterprise started as part of one of our modules, we hope to keep it running into next semester as well. We are extremely passionate and love this project, even though it has proved to be a lot of work so far. We really hope to make a difference and help as many students as we can”.
Illustration: Magdalena Yiacoumi
Logo Provided by The LunchBox