BoolaBooks. Scan. Sell. Save.

what-we-learned

15 Oct 2017

Two of our founders worked previously on a startup called BoolaMarket. The lessons we picked up there definitely taught us a lot and partially inspired us to start BoolaBooks. The core concept is still the same: people are more likely to trust buying & selling used goods online if they trust the people (and college networks are a good proxy for trust). Plus, there are also the savings in shipping!

We learned a ton about what it takes to build a live site that serves so many people and actually works. We also learned how to actually run the basics of a team and company. Even though the two aforementioned people have moved on now to BoolaBooks, here are some of the comparisons that make us excited to focus on books rather than a general college marketplace.

First and foremost, books have a lot more turnover compared to furniture/college supplies needed. The former is bought every semester (or at some schools every quarter) by every student on campus. The latter is bought in concentration at the beginning/end of the year but is far more focused on folks who are trying to unload stuff before leaving or trying to buy stuff as they upgrade dorms.

Second and most importantly, general items are poorly structured and organized, making it hard for folks to get the kind of organization and indexing to work through a bunch of different items. Books on the other hand are neatly organized and have unique identifiers: ISBN numbers. This means that we as a site can do a lot to save sellers time in uploading books and we can do a lot to save buyers time in finding books by organizing by classes. The latter doubles as a way to make each campus feel unique and locally catered since classes will only be relevant to students on a particular campus.

Lastly, while we were excited about BoolaMarket moving forward, we saw that Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, and OfferUp had pretty effectively taken over the market for used goods. The delta between geolocated items versus college-constrained items was pretty small, especially given that Facebook already let people identify as part of a given college network.

Links from our past: https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/04/24/students-launch-e-commerce-app/, http://theboola.com/5-ways-shop-better-boolamarket/, https://sustainability.yale.edu/news/boolamarket-sustainable-marketplace