Class Notes For Sale. Student-Run Marketplace Expects $500,000 In Revenue
Selling class notes online is paying off for thousands of college students, and for the Florida State University students who run the study guide marketplace Moolaguides.com. The two-year-old company has buyers and sellers on more than twenty campuses, and the owners expect to bring in half a million dollars this year.
On the Florida State University campus, Moolaguides is a well-known website. A quick survey of students walking near the main parking garage on Wednesday showed 3 out of 4 were familiar with it.
One of them was Andre Leonard, a senior majoring in computational biology. Starting more than a year ago, when he made a study guide to prepare for exams, he uploaded it to Moolaguides to make some extra money.
“You give out the link to students who want to purchase it, and when they purchase it, they tell you,” he said. “And it tells you the percentage that they’ve taken out of the cost and things like that, and you set your own cost for the guide.”
Sellers are encouraged to post their GPA along with their guides, which can help justify a higher price. And over the past two years, students at Florida State have earned more than $350,000.
That’s according to Moolaguides co-founder and CEO Thomas Brady, who’s still a semester shy of graduating from FSU. He and two classmates started the company in their sophomore year as part of the business school’s entrepreneurship program. He runs it with no employees, just a couple of contractors who do things like website developing and marketing.
“Over the past two years, Moolaguides.com has sold over 60,000 documents. It’s a number that we’re very proud of,” Brady said.
The company takes a 20 percent cut of every sale. Brady projects gross revenue for this year to be more than $500,000. That means revenue will have more than doubled every year since Moolaguides started.
But the idea of selling class notes is not without its detractors. Rebecca Helling is about to start her junior year at FSU. She says professors are well aware people are advertising study guides for sale to their classmates, and they’re not all big fans.
“I think they’d probably prefer people create their own study guides,” she said. “It’s kind of a shortcut to work.”
Brady said, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, but he’s aware of criticism from professors and some students.
“It’s just really a jealousy factor,” he said. “If a student’s making hundreds of dollars per test, and them not making anything. And it’s also teachers, who feel that they’re entitled to a certain kickback, which I disagree with wholeheartedly.”
He said, note sellers must affirm they own the copyright to anything they upload—that is, it must be an original creation. And as for the criticism that buying notes makes students less likely to go to class, he said, it’s simply another study tool for people who might not be the best note takers.
Behind FSU, Brady said, the most active schools on Moolaguides are Tallahassee Community College and Boston College. He hopes to offer the site at more than 40 schools nationwide by the end of the year.
He said, “The best way for us to expand is to locate the best students on campus, the ones who are entrepreneurial and they’re innovative themselves, and they can see the potential of growing our service at their campus.”
In addition to adding more campuses, Moolaguides is planning some new features on the site. Soon, students will be able to sell study guides in the form of videos and flashcards. And a new user-generated rating system will give buyers more information.