The real world: UCSB students use Zoom platform to kickstart student-run business

The team members of Gaucho Creative (GC) know they’re part of something special. More than an internship or typical college job, Gaucho Creative provides students at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with real-world, portfolio-building experience that can otherwise take years to acquire. 

Founded in June 2020, Gaucho Creative is a student-run, marketing consulting group that began when two students, Devanshi Mehta and Amy Zhou, recognized a need for more professional marketing opportunities since there was no business school on campus. They discussed their ideas via Zoom Meetings and eventually connected with other interested students to launch the business virtually as an 11-person cohort.  

Today, Gaucho Creative has grown more than 350% and employs 50+ students across campus to execute a variety of marketing and consulting projects in fields such as: 

  • market research 
  • surveys
  • go-to-market strategy 
  • digital marketing
  • SEO
  • UX/UI research and design
  • social media content creation

Finding their own way

Gaucho Creative members include designers, consultants, project managers, and account managers. In addition to their academic responsibilities, the students collaborate during team meetings hosted as often as three times per week. Although they are advised by UCSB administrators, the students find their own clients just as they would in any professional setting. 

“We source clients through networking with individuals at companies we admire,” Gaucho Creative employee Katarina Bongardt said. 

This led to Zoom becoming more than Gaucho Creative’s preferred meeting and collaboration solution, but also, a real-life client, as the students have opportunities to work with enterprises, start-ups, and nonprofits.

Zoom: one platform to connect

The GC team worked with Zoom on a variety of projects, including website redesigns, market research, surveys, and feature recommendations for students both in and out of the classroom. As they became more familiar with the Zoom platform, GC students quickly learned it was designed to be far more than a videoconferencing tool. 

From file sharing, client check-ins, and feedback collection, to scheduling and joining team meetings, Zoom Team Chat made it possible for the students to collaborate fluidly between applications regardless of where they were located.

“We had the Zoom client already, so Zoom Team Chat made it easier to add contacts and chat externally instead of creating entirely new workspaces,” Katarina said. “Client communications were much better with Zoom Team Chat than some of the other tools (Slack or Microsoft Teams), especially around the ability to add external contacts easily,” she said. 

Further, Team Chat enabled Gaucho Creative employees to communicate far more efficiently than email, reducing client feedback time from three days to nine hours.

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Hybrid solutions built for business expansion

In addition to using modern tools and applications, Gaucho Creative also provides students with opportunities to gain valuable life skills that complement their portfolio of finished work. Using Zoom’s hybrid-friendly solutions, GC team members can sharpen their leadership, collaboration, and professional development skills through:

  • on-campus administrator meetings
  • executive board member meetings
  • advisor feedback
  • new member recruiting events
  • external guest speakers and teach-back events 

Gaucho Creative also views Zoom as an organization-building platform. Initially, the consulting group began working with 1-2 clients per quarter. Today they have three clients each quarter, totaling 10 unique clients in just two years. Looking ahead, GC hopes to continue to expand its client base and grow the business. With the help of Zoom’s new caption translations, students can scale into new time zones and overcome language and geographic barriers that can often be a challenge. 

“The main mission of starting Gaucho Creative was to allow students to have more business acumen. Looking ahead we want to do more community outreach and development; add more networking opportunities to broaden (the business), onboard clients, and expand to different industries,” Milan said. 

Ready for the real world

College students are no strangers to remote applications and online relationships, especially in the seismic shift to a digital-first world. Their familiarity with the Zoom platform combined with an eagerness to try new tools gives the students of Gaucho Creative a comfortable head start to transition to post-graduate work. 

“Zoom allowed student members to form strong professional and personal relationships, connect with clients, and produce top-tier work,” Katarina said. 

See how you can reimagine learning and education for your own team. Check out Zoom for education today. 

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