Gen Z Blog

Powered by Voxburner

How student marketing turned these startups into success stories

Start up business success stories with student marketing at their heart.

Here at Student Beans, you’ll often hear us talking about the value of the student market, and how this influential demographic can be make or break for your brand. But you shouldn’t just take our word for it. Many of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing companies started out by focussing marketing to college students. Here’s how three start up business success stories got to be the household names they are today…


Not only was Facebook founded by Mark Zuckerberg when he was a student at Harvard, but college kids were crucial to its early success. The original product was a ‘hot or not’-style site where users ranked their fellow students. Even once it grew into a social network, it was still limited to those with an academic email address. The site grew further through word of mouth among students in the US and around the world. This created an exclusive community that those excluded were desperate to join, and once the gates were opened, new users flooded in. One of the many small businesses to start in college is now one of the world’s largest social media networks, with 1.69 billion users worldwide in 2020.

Start up business success stories with student marketing at their heart.


Like social networks, dating apps are only successful when users know there are people they want to interact with already using the service. This means viral marketing is the ideal strategy, and a close community of influential young consumers is the perfect target. The Bumble team visited sororities and fraternities, directly asking students to download their app, and recruited brand ambassadors to keep a continued presence on campus. They rolled out the same strategy when they launched in the UK, creating an international network of ‘Honeys.’


Ridesharing company Lyft may not be a company you’d instantly associate with the student market, but co-founder John Zimmer shared in a recent NPR podcast how they targeted US colleges with their early marketing strategy. They started out offering a private carpooling network to universities, which they promoted by attending campus events. Zimmer said he visited hundreds of universities in the first few years of running the company with his former Cornell University roommate Logan Green.

Feeling inspired to explore how your brand could benefit from marketing to college students? Find out more about how Student Beans brand solutions can strengthen your marketing plan to attract college students, connecting you with this key demographic.

Drive your biggest growth yet this Festive Season

Access insight-packed infographics, reports, blogs and more to fuel your holiday campaigns