What started as a student-run free printing service has turned into a small start-up business attracting hundreds of students a week.
Niesh, was started by three University of Auckland students in 2015.
After securing a $95,000 investment grant from Smales Farm, the start-up has expanded its services to include a student lounge serving cheap food and coffee and an app that offers student discounts from local businesses. The app also features a social media platform to share and remain up to date on campus news.
Co-founder of Niesh James Koo, 23, said the popularity of the business had doubled to 6000 users over the past month as the staff has become more confident with running the lounge and cafe.
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The lounge provides a shared learning hub for students close to the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology’s city campuses.
The business employs is staffed by seven full-time staff and 23 part-time volunteers.
Koo said the lounge and printing services are funded by the sales from the espresso machine-run cafe and his handmade juice and smoothie bar.
The lounge also allows students to borrow free text books that can otherwise set students back hundreds of dollars.
As the winner of the MYOB Business Makeover competition, Niesh received an upgrade of its software, help with accounting and administration, as well as a transformation to its lounge.
Koo said the lounge make-over has been received well by students attracting more foot traffic.
Before the renovation “the lounge felt like a hospital ward but since the makeover students have been staying longer”, he said.
University of Auckland student Morgan Manoharan, 19, said he enjoyed the the lounge’s lively atmosphere which made it easy to meet new people.
MYOB’s New Zealand general manager Carolyn Luey said Niesh stood for the make-over out because of the positive impact on students.
From a small operation in the borrowed space of a friend’s shop, the startup has grown into occupying its own premises.
Luey said Niesh had mixed smart ideas and technology to build an innovative business.
“The fact that the founders have achieved this business growth whilst still studying undergraduate degrees is hugely impressive.”
Koo said the next step for Niesh could be national expansion.
While its main student base is Auckland University of Technology and University of Auckland, Koo said he was looking to establish something similar for Waikato University and Otago University.