NU alum’s Web site finds bargains for students

Lauren Levy

Northwestern alumnus Matt Kraft and University of Wisconsin-Madison student Phil Edwards know that many college students do not have money to buy a new iPod, a pair of jeans or a digital camera.

Kraft, Weinberg ’05, and Edwards created Poor U (, a Web site that finds the best deals on different products, from music to dorm furniture, to help students save time and money.

The Web site, which made its debut this month, allows students to ask the Web site’s editors to search for the best deal on a product if it is not already listed. All of the site’s services are free of charge.

“Of all the people who need deals, it’s the Ramen-soup set that needs them the most,” Kraft wrote in an e-mail. “We wanted to help find the best deals on things that college students need and want but couldn’t find at a reasonable price.”

According to Kraft, the inspiration for Poor U came from the time he spent searching for good deals using the Web during his college years.

It was only fair to pass those deals on to students who need the discounts but who might not have the time to search for them, he said.

Although Kraft and Edwards started brainstorming for a way to pass on deals through the Internet years ago, Kraft said the plan for the Web site became serious in January 2006.

After a few months of researching deals and site design, they had a beta version up and running and were ready to launch by March, Kraft said.

Kraft and Edwards choose the deals they put up on Poor U by continuously searching through Web sites and tips that their readers send them, Kraft said.

Edwards and Kraft spend each morning sifting through the Web and reading the e-mails they receive from their readers.

Then they verify the data and post the best deals the same day, Kraft said.

According to Kraft, Poor U is unique. There are no other bargain sites geared specifically towards college students, he said.

“With Poor U, students don’t have to choose between books and booze, or MP3s and a loaf of wheat bread,” Kraft said. “We want to help people spend as easily and efficiently as they can, without giving up the finer things in life, like that ‘Desperate Housewives’ DVD.”

Due to the recent debut of the bargains Web site, very few NU students have had a chance to use it – but many said they would be willing to try it.

“(Poor U) seems convenient,” said Weinberg freshman Chad Watkins, who said he will probably use the site.

“If it has everything that we need in once place, then why not?”

Reach Lauren Levy at [email protected]