Tired of dropping big bucks for textbooks every semester and barely making anything back on their resale, University of Pittsburgh senior Melanie Feldman is fighting back with a website.
A native of Hawaii, she went home last summer and recruited her brother and two friends for the task. Together they launched Bookzingo.com
, a website that works similarly to Craigslist in that it allows students to resell their textbooks at prices they set themselves while encouraging students on campuses to resell to one another.
"I was so fed up with the situation after I only got $90 back for books that cost me $500," says Feldman, whose name may be familiar from her days as a star Panther volleyball player. (She is now an assistant coach.) "I just felt so ripped off."
Feldman and her brother went to work, recruited a high school web designer, and began mapping out a plan for an online marketplace. They raised $10,000 amongst themselves. In devising the initial business plan, they determined that to work efficiently, Bookzingo should recruit point people on each campus to market the website.
Bookzingo had a soft launch last July and is now in beta. The team is still tweaking the site and working on the revenue model. They are also hoping to get into a future AlphaLab for further company development.
"There are definite benefits (in conducting business through) online transactions and keeping it uncomplicated," says Feldman. "Most of the transactions occur within a local campus. That way you can meet up in person and inspect the book. That's what's unique; you're not waiting for a book in the mail and you can inspect it first."
Bookzingo.com is not endorsed by any of the schools where the service is offered, Feldman notes. So far the website has 700 users, 1,500 books and 15 colleges participating. "We know there's a tipping point," she says. "We're just not there yet."
Source: Melanie Feldman, Bookzingo.com