What is the name of the company and/or product?
What problem does this solve?
BookStoreTimes helps college students buy, sell, and trade textbooks amongst each other on campus. Ideally the seller will get a higher price than a bookstore offers, the buyer will get a lower price than a bookstore asks, and two students will meet in person who otherwise may have only passed each other on campus. The app encourages local commerce and builds community.
What is the full launch/release date planned?
BookStoreTimes soft launched on the UST campus this year and national expansion is planned for 2013.
Who is on the team?
What is the specific technology or combination of technologies that makes this run? Is there any IP?
The IP consists of a web application built using ASP .NET MVC, SQLServer, and the Facebook API.
Is there a revenue model? How big is the market and how will you scale?
We’re offering BookStoreTimes free of charge. Our primary impetus behind moving from class project to publicly accessible app was to bring attention to the community & talent pool at the University of Saint Thomas. Our target market is college students who buy and sell textbooks. If we capture enough of that market we’ll more seriously consider revenue streams.
What is your greatest strength?
Our biggest strength during development was a very narrow product focus with a hard deadline at the end of the semester that prevented scope creep. Our biggest strength now is a generally receptive student body and faculty at the University of Saint Thomas who appreciate something developed at the school. We have a great team of marketing interns promoting the app on campus. The university libraries and even bookstore are willing to let us encourage app usage in their facilities.
What is your biggest weakness?
The biggest stumbling block to BookStoreTimes adoption is that it requires a critical mass of users at a university before it is useful to students. The app limits exchanges to students at the same school as determined by education information they’ve entered into Facebook. This serves as a disincentive to spammers and keeps the relevance of books posted high, but it creates a barrier to entry at every school.
What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?
An effective and affordable way to introduce BookStoreTimes to new schools is needed to transform the app from a University of Saint Thomas novelty to a standard part of campus life across America. To that end we’d love if you told any college students you know about BookStoreTimes.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We would be happy to meet anyone interested in partnering to bring similar functionality to other vertical markets outside of higher education.