by Leah Shutes, Published November 19, 2012
Nick Schlemper's advice to his fellow students: "If you have an idea you think will benefit others, go for it." That's just what he did on the recommendation of business professor Jane Stephenson, and now he and two friends from Western Michigan and Ferris State University run www.CollegeGenius.net.
Schlemper is a transfer student from University of Texas. He's a marketing major at Eastern and says he loves to show people how products can benefit them.
"I'm huge on communication and meeting needs," he says. "If I can save someone five bucks on a video game, that's a big deal to me."
The site has a bit of a Craigslist-meets-social media feel to it, where users make a profile and all contact information can be kept private. Then, they can sell, buy or trade anything from DVDs to textbooks for a major discount, as well as finding job postings, events and roommates from their own school. Schlemper says the site isn't like Craigslist, though, because you can find exactly what you're looking for.
"Students are out there getting rid of all kinds of things you'd normally over-pay for," says Schlemper.
The site has been introduced to many major schools and universities across Michigan, as well as one school in Chicago. The team gets the word out with fliers, social media and by visiting schools and talking with students at events like Western Michigan's Bronco Bash. Students at other universities also can request that their school be added to the site.
"I want it (the site) to be the first place students look for things they need," Schlemper says. "Students have limited resources, so I think this type of outlet will help a lot."
CollegeGenius requires students to sign up using the e-mail address provided by their institution. This requirement is a safety feature, and also personalizes ads so that students get regular updates about events, sales and specials at local restaurants and bars.
"People don't really pay attention to fliers and the cost of advertising in newspapers is pretty high. This site is an avenue to get the word out (about events) for free," says Schlemper.
In the future, the team hopes to add more features to the site, such as a place for tutors and those in need of tutors to connect with one another, a place for scholarship information, and to get more popular companies to advertise. He also hopes to get the big textbook companies to market their products for Nook and Kindle reading devices through CollegeGenuis.net so that students have cheaper and easier access to these materials.
Schlemper and his partners are also always taking suggestions for the site, because, as he says, "A thousand minds are better than three."