Move over, eBay — a buy-sell-and-trade website started by some students at Iowa State University has grown to more college campuses and has become an informal network for thousands of students. Co-founder Aayush Phumbra says they named in “Chegg” after arguing over which came first, the chicken of the egg.
It began as a very basic website to help students buy and sell textbooks on-line, but he says 75-percent of its content was added later. Its basic value still is in helping students buy and sell textbooks, which can cost hundreds of dollars each these days. Phumbra says they help students buy and sell everything on the website, and match those who’ve bought a book for this semester with other students who’ll be taking that class next semester. At the same time, they help students exchange “housing, electronics, roommates, cars, everything.”
While eBay lets people contact each other over the Internet to make deals, part of the campus-based CHEGG web exchange system includes meeting in person. So when you see on-line that someone’s selling a textbook you send them a message that you’re interested and discuss the price. Then you meet up, check over the book in person and pay in cash, and that’s it, he says. “That’s the whole transaction.”
Letting people find things they want and get some money for their old stuff is just part of the value their website offers to students. You could buy and sell on-line, Phumbra points out, on eBay or Half-dot-com, but this site lets students meet another student, someone new to them on campus who might be in their class or share notes with them.
And the site is a social center, allowing users to add another student as a “friend” on CHEGG. “Students at I-S-U love our site,” Phumbra says. “We have eight to ten-thousand people registered at I-S-U, who post anything from two to three-thousand items every month.” Students must register to use it, though the website is free, and they can buy and sell books, music, games and other items as well as checking out ride exchanges for weekends at home, posting their class schedules and sending messages to friends.
The website’s registered at ten Midwestern campuses including Iowa State, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin. Its creators say they hope to make money by selling advertising on the site.