A bad night led to a class and a business venture

Anthony Holloway

Note-selling site keeps growing

Kent State student Mike Matousek started his own business, Flashnotes.biz, as part of a business entreprenuer class. His business allows students to post and sell class notes for other students. Shaye A. Painter | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Senior finance major Mike Matousek changed majors two times, he said, but didn’t find his passion until he started a business.

Matousek’s business, Flashnotes.biz, provides students with an Amazon.com type of selling arena that is exclusively for class notes. The business, which has five active Facebook groups for marketing from The University of Florida, Ohio State, University of Tampa and Kent State, enjoys four $350-a-year sponsorships from Chipotle, Campus Book and Supply, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and Shearer’s Foods, Inc.

Matousek said students can sign up, upload their class notes online and sell them to other students. Everything except buying other people’s notes is free, which includes a 20 percent transaction fee. He said 400 students signed up so far. This growth, he said, helps him toward the goal of his Web site.

“Students who want to succeed should have every possibility, and this creates a totally different avenue,” he said. “I’ve been sitting in class where I have no idea what this teacher is talking about, but this kid next to me had four pages of notes.”

Matousek said he is passionate about this goal, and it influenced a recent decision for his business.

Matousek’s most recent venture is his partnership with Student Accessibility Services. SAS, which typically pays students $50 a semester for class notes, is now able to use Matousek’s personal credit to purchase notes from his Web site on his own accord. He said he based his decision to partner with SAS out of good will and a strong belief in karma.

“I love to give back,” he said. “I’m the biggest believer in karma. That’s my own credit card. I mean, I could have went out and bought a TV with that, but we’re going to let them charge whatever they possibly want on it just to make sure those kids can get the notes.”

Even though he’s only lost money so far, Matousek said he is happy with what he built, but the year-and-a-half process to get there was a long journey.

Matousek changed from pre-med to pre-law before finally settling on finance, but said he never thought he would take an entrepreneurial class. But one crazy night on the town changed his mind.

He said one night he convinced a friend to go out with him, and after having a few drinks, she decided to go meet up with friends at another bar where she got arrested.

“She texted me and said, ‘Hey, I got arrested,’ and I said, ‘Hey, you know I can’t come get you out of jail. I’ve had a couple of drinks, too; I don’t want to get arrested, too,'” Matousek said.

Listen to Flashnotes.biz owner and Kent State senior Mike Matousek talk about starting his own business.

He said she then called her former teacher who used to teach at Theodore Roosevelt High School, and he came down and bailed her out. Afterward, Matousek got to talk to both of them and found out the teacher was teaching an entrepreneurship class at Kent campus that semester.

“I told him I’m going to law school, I have 21 hours already. I was like, I can’t really take it, and he uses his little sales pitch on me, ‘You know, it’s my first class; I’m trying to get people to sign up,'” he said. “And then Stacy gave me pressure, you know, he’s a real good guy, he needs people to sign up for his class, so it ended up being my 24th hour that semester.”

From there, Matousek said he became passionate about entrepreneurship.

Matousek enrolled in Intro to Entrepreneurship and said he “loved it from day one.” The first part of the class, Matousek said, was something that piqued his interest, but it was a big project that tipped the scale, totally immersing in his newfound passion.

He had to submit an entrepreneurial idea for a class project. After tossing around a few, he found inspiration in his statistics class.

“(The professor was) the nicest guy in the world, but no one could learn from him,” he said. “There was this one girl up there, had all the notes, we all would copy off her. I just thought if I had a place to bring this all together where students had access to this kind of information, it would be awesome.”

Matousek said he pitched the idea to his teacher, and he loved it. This sent him to Craig Zamary, the founder of GreenEnergyTV.com. The entrepreneurship department at Kent State also brings him in to speak with students.

He said Zamary helped him learn how to start a business.

“I never had taken an entrepreneurship class – never even considered it,” Matousek said. “I didn’t even know what entrepreneurship was, to be honest, when I really started it.”

He said this led him to searching Google.com for a Web designer. Despite getting quotes ranging from $5,000 to $6,000, he said he found a designer to fit what he was looking for, but she backed out because she misunderstood his proposal.

At this point, he said he was starting from square one again, but Zamary gave him some of his best advice.

“He said, ‘If you want something, you got to go out there and find it because you’re not going to just get it at age 21,'” Matousek said.

So he stood outside of the computer science department asking all who entered if they were a designer.

“Finally, I stopped in this room, and there was this redhead. I was like, ‘Ma’am, do you do Web design?’ I was discouraged by this point because I was there for like an hour,” Matousek said. “She said, ‘Oh, no, I’m just an administrator, but I know someone.”

So the administrator led him to a man named Andrew Martin, “who turned out to be a gold mine.” Martin has a graduate degree in Web design and made Matousek’s site for a fraction of what other people charged.

“I even gave him 3 percent of the company as a gift,” Matousek said.

After securing a Web designer, he said his next move was marketing his idea. He said his goal was to hit schools nationally, and he started calling universities’ marketing departments, asking about their best marketing students.

He said he then went on to meet some entrepreneurs to get more information about what he was doing.

From there, Matousek said complications with getting the Web site operational kept pushing it back, but he finally got it running in August. Then he concentrated his time doing more marketing through Facebook and advertisements.

Overall though, he said he is happy about how things turned out, and the last eight months of getting the Web site together was worth it.

“I worked every day for the last eight months except my dad’s birthday because he wouldn’t let me,” Matousek said.

Contact student finance reporter Anthony Holloway at [email protected]