Campus Shift helps students save

 

 

Lyndsey Sager

Imagine never spending another dollar on textbooks.

Chris Haynes, junior entrepreneurship major and co-owner of CampusShift.com, hopes that is what his company can do for students everywhere. His website is designed to help students search, swap and save.

“We allow students to search dozens of textbook sites at once with one click to find the lowest price on the textbooks,” Haynes said. “On average, we’re 75 percent cheaper than the bookstore.”

Derek Haake, CEO and co-owner of Campus Shift, said he originally saw a need for the company when he was an MBA student at the University of Akron.

“In the MBA program I was spending $2,000 a semester on my textbooks,” Haake said. “I got tired of spending that type of money and honestly, that’s why I built the site.”

The website also allows students to swap books with one another.

“It’s all completely automatic. You list what books you have, what books you need,” Haynes said. “And what we allow, is basically for the student to become the merchant.”

Haynes said his swapping system is more effective than any other company out there because it can determine a fair trading price for any book by automatically searching the Internet.

“You’re going to be able to sell your book back to a student for more than you would get at the bookstore,” Haynes said, “and you’re going to be able to buy it from a student cheaper than you would at the bookstore or online.”

The swapping software is based on a credit system: One credit equals one dollar.

For example, if a student has a textbook worth $60 at the “fair market value,” they can upload it into the system and have 60 credits. From there, the book goes directly into the search results for anyone else trying to search for the book.

“If you manage your credits right, you’ll never have to pay for a textbook ever again with actual money,” Haynes said.

He said even if you run out of credits or a book loses its value, you can purchase more credits and continue swapping books at low prices.

The digital currency makes the system safer for students because there is no money exchange. To use the swapping system, users must have an .edu email address to ensure they are a college student.

v“It gives students a sense of security that you’re meeting a college student,” Haynes said. “If something did happen, an .edu email address is basically a Social Security Number for a college kid. We would be able to assist immediately.”

Allison Lenz, junior applied mathematics major, said she usually buys her books from Half.com.

“They’re usually about $25 to $30 cheaper, sometimes even better, than buying them new from the bookstore,” Lenz said. “But if a new website (like Campus Shift) had even better prices, I would be willing to try it out.”

Similarly, Randy Hoover, freshman architecture major, said he usually spends $400 on textbooks from Campus Book & Supply.

“I would much rather find a cheaper alternative that is more navigable, as long as it is reliable,” Hoover said.

The second component to the company is the Campus Shift community. This feature is similar to other deals sites such as Groupon.com, but provides deals relevant to students.

Haake said his goal is to find businesses in college towns that want to attract students. Students will be able to go online, find the deals and print them out or have them sent to their phone via text message. They also won’t have to enter credit card information on the Campus Shift website to use the deal.

“We want students to swap their textbooks in a safe, secure location – a public business where they can structure their exchange,” Haake said. “One way we wanted to do that is that we want businesses to be able to offer students a good deal. Not just a coupon, but something to really save money.”

An Android app for Campus Shift is already available for download, and Haynes said an iPhone app is in the works. The app will allow students to sign up to get deals from their favorite businesses sent directly to their phones.

v“Basically what we’re trying to become is an online marketing platform that connects students to businesses,” Haynes said.

Campus Shift, which originally launched in September, already has 2,000 users at 400 different universities, including 800 at Kent State.

The company launched Monday at Ohio University with 10 community deals and reduced-price presale tickets for 9Fest in Athens.

“The 1,000 presale tickets we had sold out in three hours and 45 minutes,” Haake said.

Haake said Campus Shift plans to offer another discount on tickets in the next few weeks. Though it will not be the same deal, he said it would still offer students substantial savings off the at-the-door ticket price of $40.

9Fest will be May 19 and is a one-day 18-and-over concert series that allows attendees of legal drinking age to bring their own alcohol. Though this year’s lineup is not confirmed, Haynes said it should be similar to last year’s, which included Machine Gun Kelly, iPhonic and 23 other bands.

Haynes said he hopes to do a similar launch at Kent State in the next few weeks. He also said he hopes to develop a student rep program, similar to Flashnotes, at campuses across the country. The reps will act as commission-based interns, responsible for signing companies for advertising, distributing marketing materials and maintaining their campus’ Facebook page.

Students who are interested in a campus rep position can submit their resumes to Haynes at [email protected]

Contact Lyndsey Sager at [email protected].