Skooloko, a student-created website made for students to trade goods and services has seen a rise in popularity since its birth in the fall of 2013. “It’s sort of an online marketplace,” co-owner senior Sewedo Whenu said. “[It’s] a place where college students from all over can come together to offer and receive things from a greater community.”
According to Whenu, “The site has a very basic search functionality right now,” but has been steadily growing and developing. With that progress, it’s been gaining recognition from others around New York State.
On April 9, Skooloko was one of six Geneseo teams to compete at the New York Business Plan Competition semifinal round at the University of Rochester and will now be one of three Geneseo teams to advance into the NYBPC Finals at SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany.
“I believe we competed against a total of 69 teams, to be one of nine teams that were selected to advance from this region,” Whenu said. “We did pretty well, which is encouraging.”
The top teams from each region will compete for the grand prize in Albany on April 25.
“The competition is open to all student groups, from undergraduates, to graduate students, to even Ph.D students,” Whenu said. “We competed in the ‘Software and IT’ category … and in the finals we will compete in our categories and then all together for the final prize.”
The Skooloko team became involved in the NYBPC as part of VanArsdale Chair of the School of Business Judy Albers’ experimental "Idea2Venture" entrepreneurship class, a course that Whenu and his colleagues are currently enrolled in.Presently, seniors Nathan Wilson, Madison Rittenhouse and Olivia Sluzar are all part of the Geneseo faction of Skooloko with Whenu, who also works with other colleges across the state.
“We created the site because we realized that there was a need in the community,” Whenu said. “Students often go through similar experiences – whether it be moving off campus or taking different sets of classes every semester – students have similar goods from those experiences and need a formal place to trade those things with each other.”
On Skooloko, users can sell anything from used textbooks to old couches, and can offer services like photography or haircutting to people either within a college community or outside of a specific campus.
“It’s a way to streamline the practice of trading goods and services on campus without the risks and fees of other platforms,” Whenu said.
While Whenu acknowledges the benefits of other methods of getting this information out there, he feels that bulletin boards and unmanaged Facebook groups can only offer students so much.
According to Whenu, the biggest problem he and his colleagues have encountered with the site thus far has been a lack of advertisement, which led them to launch their first campaign “Got Stuff” in order to spread the word.