Stage: Beta (public testing)
Number of employees: 1-5
Profitable year: 2011
Short URL: vator.co/swapu-com
Founder, Owner, SwapU.com
SwapU (Swap University) is an online classifieds for college students who want to connect with other students in order to buy, sell, and swap items, ideas, and events. SwapU’s mission is to enrich the college experience by providing an alternative to inefficient campus bulletin boards and posting columns, with a more effective and focused platform for the exchange of goods and services, jobs, housing, and social activities. Our primary objective is to create an easy way for students to swap goods, ideas, and information, such as events, jobs, class and professor reviews, and anything pertaining to the college life. SwapU.com is a website designed to serve as a link between sellers and buyers within the college community; a forum for exchange of information –whether it’s jobs, services, events, housing, or anything else within the college lifestyle. SwapU is exclusive to the college community. Registered members will be able to post and browse listings within their own campuses, as well as transact with other colleges and universities free of charge.
SwapU applies the Craigslist model to the college campus, improving on the aesthetics, functionality, relevancy, safety and security.
Chuck Nwokocha, President, co-CEO, Owner
Chuck Nwokocha is a graduate of Harvard University, with a B.A. in Psychology with a focus in Organizations and Economics. Upon graduation Chuck accepted a job with Guardsmark LLC, an industry leader in private security. He is currently serving as the National Account Manager for a prestigious client. Chuck’s responsibilities involve managing the security operations in eight cities, from the P&L to HR responsibilities that include hiring, training and managing staff.
Prosper Nwokocha, President, co-CEO, Owner
Prosper Nwokocha graduated from Columbia University, where he excelled on the football field and served as a team captain during his senior season. A Sociology major with a Premed concentration, Mr. Nwokocha embraced the challenges of being a student-athlete at one of the most distinguished academic institutions in the world. He not only prospered athletically and academically, but he had a strong presence on the campus social scene as well. As Prosper worked hard to make the most of his collegiate experience, he constantly looked for ways to enhance campus life for both himself and his fellow peers.
Gordon Radlein, VP Product Development, Owner
Anton Radlein, VP Product Development, Owner
Gordon Radlein is a 2006 graduate of Columbia University, with a major in Computer Science.
Anton Radlein is a 2005 graduate of the University of Guelph in London,Ontario,Canada, also with a major in Computer Science.
With over 20 yrs of combined experience Gordon and Anton are responsible for the web development of the SwapU website. With another partner, they founded Three-formed, a media company specializing in website design and development. The company also produces print work and the creation of corporate identity design.
The college community is the target demographic, thus it is appropriate to limit the services to this group in order to provide specific and concentrated services. This limited market of college students creates a level of comfort and security with fellow students. SwapU provides an efficient setting where students interact in an intimate college environment in contrast to the impersonal big market sites such as Craigslist, Yellow Pages, etc.
With the demands of college (work load and time restraints), rising tuition, and a slumping economy, students are looking for easier, faster, more efficient, and less expensive ways of getting things that they need and getting rid of the things that they don’t need.
Tuition prices are going up, and in the midst of the slumping economy, college students are looking for ways to save money. Students are more willing to transact with other college students than with campus bookstores because of the likelihood of receiving a greater bargain, both ways.
E-commerce is replacing traditional avenues for information exchange. These antiquated means are more time-consuming, tedious, and inefficient. With the demands of college life, students are looking for easier, faster, and more effective ways of acquiring the items and information they need and want and getting rid what they don’t need. The need is expressed through the use of bulletin boards, poles, broader/ less focused sites such as Craigslist, etc. Furthermore, SwapU’s focused campus approach takes advantage of the fact that most of the items students post and browse for can be found within their very own campus, thus eliminating the hassle of filtering through the general listings on broader or non-campus specific websites. Since items are more likely to be circulated within a campus, follow-through and accountability amongst students and item delivery are maximized.
The special feature that separates SwapU from competitors is the unique SWAP feature. The Swap feature allows users, when posting, to indicate that they are interested in a swap. This indication can be open-ended, allowing the responders to make an offer. The user can indicate that he will entertain offers in general, or state specific items he is seeking. For example, a user can post an economics book from his first semester class and indicate his willingness to trade for a psychology book he will need the following semester. He also may indicate that he will accept a sweatshirt and a haircut. The creativity and latitude is available to the correspondents. Additional features include the ability to search the site for people entertaining items that you are willing to sell or swap
Another feature is the Tag Cloud – a list of tags where the size reflects the popularity (number of listings) of a given tag. The Tag Cloud shortcut sorts the listings by frequency. The more frequently an item is listed on the site, the larger the size of the Tag in the Cloud. When a user posts an item, in addition to assigning it to a category, he may assign a number of “tags” indicating the type of item.
The service offered by SwapU is comparable to Craigslist. However there are a few key differences. The primary difference is focus. SwapU serves a very defined market, while Craigslist’s market is much broader. SwapU focuses on college students as its principal users and the university environment as the market. A primary user must register on the website. Each user must have a school domain email address, a -.edu email address. For example: Joe Smith would be [email protected]
SwapU will charge commercial entities fees for advertising and for posting jobs, events, and housing. For the registered members (the students) posting items will be free.
SwapU monetizes the site through banner ads and postings. SwapU’s minimalist approach to monetizing the service provides the best balance for both advertisers and users. The one ad (uncontested ad) per page shows great value to the advertisers and yet is unobtrusive to the users. This allows us to monetize our services and traffic. The targeted niche also creates great value for advertisers posting for a specific community- housing, job postings, and events. Revenue will be generated from the sale of Banner Ads, Google’s AdWord, and postings.
Our management team members, their backgrounds, strengths and the reason why this is the right team to lead the company to marketplace success.
Market research has revealed an absence of serious competition in this niche market.
There is an overwhelming desire by most college students for an efficient means to exchange goods as well as information. However, there is no market leader in this niche for such a service. This type of service exists on larger scales for broader markets, for example, Yellow pages or even Craigslist. However the university or college micro-communities are underserved.
The vast college community has a expressed the need for service like SwapU. This need has not been served and no service has capitalized on the wide-open market. SwapU has an established and well-developed website to take advantage of this opportunity. The feedback, activity, and traffic (boasting months of 140k hits) on our few campuses have shown a definite niche and desire for our service. Also, we have shown modest success in our ability to drive membership and usage. SwapU can definitely become the premier online marketplace for college students. With the right capital, we can effectively promote awareness and availability of the site. Also, sufficient capital will propel promotional campaigns and and fund technical upgrades for the site. SwapU is on the brink of greatness, and I believe the right funding can provide the needed push to cross the threshold.