As a college student, Geoffrey Fox knows how tight money can be.
Shopping for essentials for a dorm room from websites like Craigslist is a way to save money, but it can be difficult to know who the other party is. In June, Fox, Wilson Bridgett and Juan Guevara began discussing the financial and security concerns of buying and selling college supplies online and came up with the idea for Flippze.
“Flippze offers students a safer and more convenient environment where they can buy, sell, trade and complete their transactions with other students from their own college campus at a place that is mutually beneficial for both the buyer and seller,” Fox said.
To join the site, a person must have a .edu account (it’s also available to faculty and staff), limiting the pool of possible buyers and sellers compared to websites open to the general public.
Flippze now is in beta testing for University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College students, faculty and staff and will be until July, company officials said. They are looking to expand to other parts of North Carolina in the next 18 months and then to selected states by 2017.
The site (flippze.com) offers a price-comparison tool so students can see what items similar to theirs sold for, allowing users to create new ads in 60 seconds.
The site is pairing with local merchants to give students a secure place to meet to exchange goods, as well as to offer discounts.
“Based on the category a student chooses to post an item to, an available list of local business partnerships will display any additional discounts or incentives for choosing to complete a transaction at that store’s location,” Fox said. “Let’s say, for example, a student sells a bicycle and chooses to meet at a bicycle shop nearby. In doing so, not only is the buyer satisfied with his or her transaction, but now they, if applicable, have the option to purchase handlebars from that bicycle shop at a discounted price – all because they chose to meet there.”
One of the local merchants the company’s recently partnered with is Port City Java, allowing students who meet at the Racine Drive location to receive a discount or incentive.
Fox knows that students also want goods that are popular – not just necessary.
“This is why we have created Flippze Merchant, where selected local businesses can choose to sell their inventory at discounted prices to students on our website,” he said.
At the moment, buyers and sellers can use cash and check, but Fox said credit card payments should be available soon.
“We are working on implementing a payment system where students will be able to complete a transaction, should they choose that option, using a credit card and plan to be in testing by August 2015,” he said.
Other technology on the horizon is an app for iOS and Android devices, which is in the works. Until it’s ready for launch Fox says, “the website was developed to render to any mobile device, tablet or computer it is accessed on.”