By Sarah Mahaney, Loyola First-Year
Almost a full year into the pandemic, university business students are having to learn the ins and outs of a complex industry from a screen. Therefore, students wanting to create their own businesses are limited by the effects of the educational reality.
Grant Bardelli is a third-year Information Systems and Marketing student at Loyola University Chicago and the founder of Bridge LUC— a website that compiles all of the student businesses started at Loyola. The goal of Bridge is to inspire collaboration between student businesses at Loyola and bring people together.
Bardelli started his own small business at the height of the pandemic called Bardelli’s Market. When beginning this endeavor, Bardelli reached out to other students who managed businesses to learn about their process. He found that this was the most effective way to learn more about growing his business. This was the inspiration behind Bridge LUC.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Sarah Mahaney: Tell me about Bridge LUC and what you do.
Grant Bardelli: Bridge LUC is a website I started to compile all of the small businesses at Loyola. The goal is to keep a central location, almost like a directory, so that people can go and find ideas started by other Loyola students. These businesses can be anything from apps to t-shirt shops.
Mahaney: So are you a small business owner yourself?
Bardelli: I started a sign shop called Bardelli’s Market at the beginning of the quarantine. I wanted to start a business and learn more about the process. The issue I ran into was growing it. There wasn’t much information on the internet that was relevant to college students. However, I did know a few other Loyola students who had small businesses and began to build a connection with them. I realized it would be nice if there was somewhere to go where you could see other business owners and their work. I’ve found that the other entrepreneurs I’ve talked to enjoy talking to other small business owners. It has made for a really cool shared experience.
Mahaney: What does it mean for you to be able to collaborate with other entrepreneurs?
Bardelli: Something that I’ve found is that it’s given me a lot of inspiration to keep going. There have been times where I’m unsure if others are even noticing my work; the people on Bridge can stay up to date with my work and we can discuss ideas. I’m really hoping that once COVID’s over, we’ll be able to do some stuff in person. I’m currently looking forward to bringing people together. People could use these events to engage with other business owners and hopefully learn from them.
Mahaney: What have you learned from creating this platform?
Bardelli: The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to create a website. I learned that I really like design and coming up with ideas. I’ve also learned a lot from the people: different ways to grow businesses or different ways to do things. I think I will continue to learn even more, the longer I do this.
In relation to the business, I originally thought of Bridge to be inclusive to all college students in the country. However, I had a difficult time growing it and I couldn’t get enough people to join. I learned that businesses benefit more from larger engagement. So when I shifted it just to Loyola, I was able to grow the community faster.
Mahaney: What is next for Bridge?
Bardelli: In the short-term, I want to grow student engagement. I am currently trying to do this online though I think it would be easier to do it in-person. In the long-term, I would like to bring it to another school to see how it compares, and if it goes well then keep expanding.
For more information about Bridge LUC please visit: https://www.bridgeluc.com/