Students Get Entrepreneurial

Two UCSD sophomores have created a unique Web site that helps students selling and buying used books to find each other online. Jeremy Jung and Jordan Brinkman, roommates and co-founders of StudentListings.com, saw a need on campus for a simple and cost-effective way for buyers and sellers of books to find each other.

A little over a month ago, Jung and Brinkman were talking about the flyers that they always see posted outside classrooms and in bathroom stalls that advertise students’ books for sale.

“”All the tabs at the bottom were always ripped off,”” Brinkman said. “”It’s ridiculous.””

The solution was simple. StudentListings.com is an online medium for students to buy and post books for sale. Contrary to other sites of this kind, such as the online bookstore ecampus.com, there is no risk involved. Posting books for sale is free and sellers can set their own prices. The Web site requires only a five percent surcharge from each sale. Since the exchange can be done in person, there are no shipping costs or taxes.

For these two entrepreneurs, creating the site was a challenge, but a fun one.

“”It was more work than we originally thought,”” Jung said. “”New challenges kept popping up.””

The entire process took the two computer science majors a month and a half. Designing the Web site took the bulk of their time.

Both partners have had extensive experience in computer programming. Jung’s resume includes work at Microsoft as both a software test engineer and a software engineer. Brinkman has worked for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a project called the Human Energy Saver, a tool for planning more energy-efficient homes.

“”I had a lot of fun creating the site,”” Jung said. “”It was the business aspect that was quite an experience.””

The process of creating and registering their business was done entirely over the phone and through the mail.

“”It took more time to actually figure out which forms to fill out than it did to process them,”” Brinkman said.

Indeed, there were many details to cover, such as getting a business license, registering with the Internal Revenue Service and registering StudentListings.com as a legal business name.

Jung and Brinkman posted their site on a separate location, http://www.Readyhosting.com, to ensure reliability and accessibility at all times.

The service that their company provides is not restricted to UCSD students, but they’re only marketing to this university. In theory, students from different universities could still use the service to post and buy books by simply exchanging them in the mail.

There was very little financial risk involved for the two students.

“”There is some start-up capital, but compared to a brick-and-mortar business, it’s minimal,”” Jung said.

Aside from bank fees, legal fees and processing fees for forms, the major investment was time.

“”We’ve definitely put a lot of time into it, but it’s been a great experience so far,”” Brinkman said.

They both feel that it will be worth it in the end.

“”If it all works out, then we’ll be very happy,”” Jung said.

In talking with their friends and fellow students, Jung and Brinkman have received positive feedback on their idea.

Registering on http://studentListings.com is simple, requiring basic information such as your name, e-mail address, user name and password. Books for sale are organized by class, department, condition and price, all for the buyer’s convenience.

“”As far as we’ve looked, we haven’t found a service with the same or cheaper prices,”” Brinkman said.

The two roommates have found working together to be a positive experience.

“”It’s nice to have a small company because you can just run to your partner and make a corporate decision right there,”” Jung said.

Jung and Brinkman have heard of similar business ventures going on at UCSD, but for the most part, they seem unorganized.

For others thinking about creating their own online business, Jung and Brinkman suggest planning to spend a lot of time on the design of the Web site, as this was the area that required the greatest amount of time and effort.

“”Come up with an idea, design it, implement it, and you’re done,”” Brinkman said.

After testing and perfecting their site’s design, Jung and Brinkman project minimal need for daily upkeep.

Also, designing and ordering advertising materials takes time. StudentListings.com plans on using word-of-mouth as its main form of advertising, coupled with T-shirts, pencils and flyers.

“”We just want to get the word out because we provide a great service that people should know about,”” Brinkman said.

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