UniMarkit: Your Campus Marketplace

Two years ago, I went through a pain point suffered countless college students: I was moving off campus and had no clue how I was going to get everything I needed. Freshmen year, I lived on Newton. My sophomore year, it was Walsh. I had a lot of what I needed, but I was missing so many items that I would need by the time I moved in.

For example, I had absolutely no furniture. No couch, no dresser, nothing. The prospect of getting everything was proving to be quite daunting. I didn’t have a car, so driving to Ikea or Target to get stuff wasn’t an option because I couldn’t bring it all back. Additionally, I’ve been intermittently broke for the last four years, so having to drop a ton of money on new furniture that I’d be using for less than a year sounded especially unfavorable. The process was becoming unbelievably frustrating.

With this in mind, I turned to Facebook to see if I could find what I needed from my fellow students at a cheap price. As it turned out this process was equally as dreadful. Finding what I included combing through the ever-disorganized class of 2018 and 2019 pages. Additionally, finding stuff on Facebook marketplace was not an efficient process at all.

Me trying to get what I need:

angry computer GIF-source

I was eventually able to get everything I needed after an excruciating amount of effort. However, after going through all of the effort I couldn’t help but wonder why there wasn’t a better marketplace app available for college students? After all, an insane amount of stuff is donated each year. In 2017 alone, over 600 pieces of furniture, 700 small appliances, 170 microwaves, 750 lamps, and roughly 6000 “unique items were” donated. This is crazy. And the reason why these items aren’t bought and sold among students is because it is really difficult to find buyers and sellers.

This experience prompted me to start building UniMarkit, the simple, easy, and trustworthy solution to an age-old problem for college students: selling the stuff around their dorm room that they don’t need. On this platform, students can buy and sell between each other in an environment that is directly tailored to their needs and interests. Upon launch, the app will work in a relatively simple fashion. To join, students must register with a valid “.edu” email address. Once each user has signed up and validated their email addresses, they will be able to purchase, make offers, and list their own items for sale. Additionally, the application will allows students to communicate within secure channels to organize how they would like to exchange the item(s) sold.

Check our promo below:

We have been working hard on the UniMarkit app for over a year now and we hope to provide a platform for college students that alleviates all of their pain points associated with getting what they need on campus. In the feature we hope to add even more features that make the platform more robust such as the ability to make public requests for items you need and the ability to share your things with other students so you can get money for MA’s off of your unused stuff!

We are launching on May 1st, so keep on the lookout for the app to hit the App Store.

If any of you guys have any questions about the app or want to request new features, feel free to hit me up on Twitter!

 

6 comments

  1. Molly Pighini · ·

    Great extension of your presentation, Mark. I am always impressed by young entrepreneurs, especially those who develop and launch their products while in college. I think for most of us it’s challenging enough to make it through school, balancing work and grades with extra-curricular activities and a social life. Kudos to you and your team.

    I think UniMarkit has great potential. You saw a gap in the market, a “pain point” as you describe it, where consumers were not being served. Because they will likely use the product for a relatively short time and have limited budgets, students are not well served by traditional furniture channels. In addition, while Facebook presents an opportunity for exchange within known networks, it is limited to that network and it is not organized for this function, making the process quite difficult. UniMarkit is definitely better positioned to serve these needs and grow to other areas in the future. The promo video looks great, somewhat reminiscent of an Apple or Google ad with its clarity and simplicity. Best of luck in May!

  2. I really like your presentation last week, so is the idea of UniMarkit. I think the idea is not only a more-green approach to campus purchasing, but also a more efficient way to it. Most of the college students, like you mentioned, would just throw away their used item, because finding a buyer is just too much hassle to have. Often, items are still in perfect condition, and it is simply too much of a waste to throw them away. I also think the business is really sustainable, since the market would always be there, as long as people are going to college, there is this need to be fulfilled.

    On the other hand, I do have questions about how would UniMarkit would fill the sales gap when semester is going on. The business could be said to be really seasonal, with the biggest sales season being the beginning of a new school year, or even semester. However, I would expect the sales volume would be much lower during the middle of a semester, even though there will be some transaction going on. How would UniMarkit do to fill this void. I would guess, UniMarkit might need to use its platform and user based and expand into businesses that could drive sales during the semesters as well. Regardless, wish to best for your startup!

  3. I think your app has lots of potential. And what you are doing is very impressive! Around a year ago I was graduating from my bachelor’s and was trying to sell the stuff that I thought I won’t need in my “adult” life. As you said I had to use Facebook to find buyers. And the process was pretty annoying. First, since you can’t categorize your post I always had to bump up my post to make sure people still can see it and it does not get lost with all the new post. Additionally, communication is hard. People would send me messages on Messenger and often they only showed up in the “requests” section since we were not Facebook section. So often I did not see messages until it was too late. And the same would happen when I tried to message people. Your app solves both of these problems so it already has lots of advantages. The hardest thing for you will probably be making people on different campuses aware about it and building the network effect. I would be curious to hear more about your marketing plan. Good luck with the launch and I hope your app will be successful!

  4. I agree that this app does have the potential to be widely used on college campuses. When I lived off campus, I went through the struggle of trying to pick through Facebook posts looking for used furniture after my soon to be landlord threw out all of the furniture that someone had left for me (True story!).

    While listening to your presentation and reading your blog, I had a similar thought as @neroc1337 bridging the peak times on the app, which would presumably be in August and May when students would be moving in and out of their dorms/apartments. I am assuming that is where the other potential functions on the app would come in and fill that void, such as finding others around you who are looking to split an Uber to the airport. In any case, best of luck on May 1st. Maybe I’ll get someone to take my mini fridge off of my hands!

  5. Nice followup to a good presentation!

  6. Thank you for sharing this after your presentation, Mark! As many have already said, UniMarkit seems to have a huge potential. The current platform that many college students use is either Facebook or Craigslist, and Facebook is preferred as many students are not yet familiar with using Craigslist. Even so, it can be extremely time consuming and dragging, when they are busy with schoolwork, extracurricular activities or even recruiting. Having UniMarkit platform that specifically targets the exchange of used goods for college students will resolve many hassles that students have experienced until May 2018 (of UniMarkit’s launch date haha).

    For startups, the most important thing is to “solve a problem.” In many cases, the startups fail because they actually attempt to target something that isn’t a real problem; they just want to create something. This leaves lack of demand, which eventually makes the product unnecessary for anyone and leads to the startup failure. As there is a clear need, frustration, and problem that this UniMarkit attempts to solve, I am sure it will go great. I would love to hear how this further goes even after I graduate in less than a month!

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