Web Site Helps Locate Sought-After Items Close To Campus

Emily Olson

By Emily OlsonContributing Writer

Andy Ertell was a faithful Craigslist.com user, but he frequently ran into the same problem.

“I would find the perfect item, but then the seller would be located on the South Side of Chicago and I’d have no way to pick it up,” said the Communication sophomore.

But Ertell’s problem was solved when he discovered Chegg.com, a Web site similar to Craiglist that was created exclusively for college students, thereby eliminating the common complaint.

“All the sellers are Northwestern students,” said Ertell, also the NU campus coordinator for Chegg. “There is no location issue at all.”

Chegg was the brainchild of two Iowa State University students. Initially, the site aimed to fight the bookstore system of reselling textbooks by giving students the opportunity to buy and sell used books at affordable prices.

The site quickly expanded to include everything from furniture and electronics to automobiles and concert tickets, all the while charging no listing fees. Items currently for sale by NU students range from the eccentric – a “small box” – to iPods, video game consoles and a $5 Sorry! board game, which is listed as “used a lot.”

“There are tons of expenses (involved with) being a student already,” said Aayush Phumbhra, co-founder and vice president of campus operations for Chegg. “The goal was to save students money by providing them with a central place to buy and sell.”

Chegg allows students to search for items specifically listed at their universities, eliminating costly shipping fees and qualms about long-distance delivery.

This security, safety and attention to the needs of college students are what distinguish Chegg from powerhouse sites such as eBay and Craigslist, Phumbhra said.

“If you’re looking for a textbook on Craigslist, you’re probably not going to find it,” he said. “Plus, Chegg ensures the privacy and safety of knowing the seller is a college student at your own campus.”

Weinberg sophomore Ashley Poltermann, a frequent user of Craigslist, said she plans to use Chegg.com because all the sellers are on-campus.

“Seeing that the site is completely localized to Northwestern students, it’s much more convenient for me personally,” she said.

In addition to a buying and selling marketplace, Chegg features a donation feature, which professors, alumni and others can use to donate items to college students directly through the Web site.

“Everyone can use the donation feature, not just college students,” Phumbhra said. “Someone can easily list their free item on the Web site and then a student can contact them to pick it up.”

Chegg has opened itself to nearly 300 universities since being launched in 2004, according to Phumbhra.

The site aims to reach 100,000 registered members by the end of the year.

“We are trying to generate enormous buzz right now at NU,” Ertell said. “The more people that join the Chegg network, the more useful and valuable the site will become for students.”

Reach Emily Olson at [email protected]