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SUMMARY

eCampus Ventures

The next BIG thing on college campuses

video

eCampus Ventures' mobile app, JoinU, makes college fun, affordable, and social.

  • $415,000 revenue in 2013. Profitable.
  • 22k+ downloads since April soft launch, 50+ countries
  • Top 100 in Social Networking on iPhone Store
  • Launched JoinU at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in May

Slides and Traction

Meet the Founders

eCampus Ventures has launched three successful, college-focused applications since it was started in 2010. The company was founded by college fraternity brothers, Dan Thibodeau and Justin Gaither shortly after they graduated from the University of Miami. Dan and Justin previously co-founded Campus Loft Solutions.

eCampus Ventures launched it's first product in 2010 and has bootstrapped to $415,000 in total revenue for 2013.

Products:

Roomsurf, www.roomsurf.com
Social network that helps students find compatible roommates to live with. Over 500,000 students have signed up since 2010 launch.

Textsurf, www.textsurf.com
The Expedia for finding the best prices on textbooks. Textsurf compares prices from a number of online vendors to help students save money.

JoinU, www.JoinU.com
An iPhone app that helps students join their classmates, discover shared interests and find out who likes them on campus. JoinU launched open Beta late April 2014.

The vision is to create one central application for college students worldwide where students can connect with classmates, find compatible roommates, save on textbooks and more.

The strategy is to incorporate Roomsurf and Textsurf into JoinU, creating one engaging and highly personalized experience for college students.

--- and the rest of the team ---

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Nedzad Kulelija
Lead Developer
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Jasmine Gaither
Manager Ambassador Program
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Yoela Palkin
Product/Technology Advisor

Interview

How have you chosen each product?

We launched Roomsurf in 2010 to be the match.com for roommates, helping college students find a roommates that they will get along with before moving to campus. After building that into a successful business we looked for ways to deliver more services to that community, and launched our textbook price comparison site, TextSurf in 2011.

Our experience building the first 2 products helped us discover other unserved needs in the college market. We also saw mobile traffic to our sites increasing and realized that we needed to integrate both of of our first products into a seamless mobile experience that would be more engaging for our users, and give us more opportunities to cross sell other services to them. We launched the JoinU mobile app earlier this year to take advantage of that opportunity.

What is TextSurf?

TextSurf is a textbook price comparison website that helps students find the cheapest place to purchase their textbooks.

What is Roomsurf?

We launched Roomsurf in 2010 to solve the problem of finding good roommates that we saw so many students struggle with. Incoming freshman often don't know anyone at the university they are about to attend, and having a good roommate has huge impact their quality of life. We help these students search for potential roommates and sort them by interests and other criteria. They can then chat with one another to find out if they would make a good fit. Right now, Roomsurf is used by students in over 1100 universities.

What is the new JoinU product?

Ever since our first company we've watched the way that students interact before getting to campus as freshman, and then afterwards once they've arrived. Students are always looking for ways to meet an interact with classmates they don't know. Whether it be a someone to study with or play basketball with there isn't a social network designed to help a group of people that all live in close proximity and share similar activities meet one another and interact more efficiently.

Since we acquire students through Roomsurf before the even arrive on campus we have a great way to seed the community with the members that need it the most, and the increased engagement will make it much easier for us to cross sell Textsurf to JoinU users. Ultimately Roomsurf and Textsurf will be fully integrated into the JoinU product.

We've learned how important a mobile experience is for our users. We've seen mobile traffic increase to around 50% of our current traffic, so having a unified seamless app experience is clearly important for our users. We launched JoinU last month and have seen more than 17k downloads with a 4.5 star rating in the App Store and we are still only on iPhone.

How are the economics for Roomsurf and Textsurf?

Historically Roomsurf has produced the majority of our revenue, about 350k in 2013. Students pay us $20 to chat with each to try and identify a potential match. 550k students have used us since launch that we have acquired without any paid advertising.

Textsurf makes up a smaller percentage of our revenue. We booked about $1 million in textbook sales in 2013 at an average 5.5% commission which resulted in around 55k of revenue also without any paid advertising.

Have you thought about licensing your products to universities themselves?

Right now we have 2 universities that pay to use Roomsurf for all their incoming freshmen. We explored focusing more on the university market but found that the sales cycle is extremely slow. We were able to sign up our existing partners by achieving critical mass among their students before trying to sell them our service directly. We think selling to universities will become a larger part of our revenue in the future, but a bottom up approach of acquiring students first and then selling the institution is defintely the way to go.

How long have the founders known one another?

We met in college back 2004 when we started our first business together building loft bunk beds for college students who wanted to free up more space in their rooms. We grew that to 150k in revenue before the university shut us down for operating a business on campus and we've been friends and business partners ever since.


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