Text Book Cost Problem Solved On Student Website
Every so often a new concept arises that seems so simple yet so essential, that many will be left wondering why they did not think of it themselves. One such concept is the brainchild of a current Santa Monica College student.
On the surface David Baldo appears to be an average college student. Dressed in a long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans, Baldo could easily get lost in the sea of faces on campus. However Baldo is not your ordinary SMC student.
What also sets Baldo apart from the herd is the fact that he started his own business. This company is the website "www.bookpostings.com."
The site, which Baldo operates alone, is very straightforward. Users have the options to either post information on books, which they want to sell, or search for books that they are looking to purchase.
While one might associate the combination of Baldo's business ownership and his age with an excellent stroke of good fortune; his entrepreneurship began with as unfortunate event.
In his youth Baldo had somewhat of a lavish lifestyle. He lived in gated community in Northern California. He had the latest fashions throughout high school, where he was a talented hockey player. At age 16 he was given a Porsche. At age 18 he was given a Subaru STI.
After high school Baldo left his father's house in Union City and moved in with his mother in Bellflower. "I really wanted to leave Northern California," Baldo says. He then enrolled at Santa Monica College.
After his first semester, Baldo returned to Northern California. On his trip back he crashed into a guardrail while driving 70 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone.
Fortunately Baldo escaped without injury.
Faced with thousands of dollars in repairs, Baldo had to foot the bill himself. He dropped out of college and got a job in Union City.
Working full-time at a cellular phone retailer and part-time at his father's real estate company, Baldo quickly discovered his penchant for business. Baldo says he was named Rookie of the Year at Parrot Cellular after placing first in sales nearly every month. He was quickly able to pay for car repairs.
While continuing to work both jobs, Baldo amassed a sizeable amount of savings. Wanting more, he decided to capitalize on a historic event taking place nearby. In the summer of 2007, Baldo sold over 5,000 self-designed t-shirts at AT&T Park celebrating the home-run record-setting season of Barry Bonds.
"One of my proudest moments was seeing Giants fans on the Jumbotron wearing my t-shirts," says Baldo. The successful venture inspired to Baldo to return to school and pursue a degree.
After returning to Bellflower, Baldo reenrolled at SMC. Like many students, Baldo once again experienced the anguish of buying high-priced textbooks. Seeking an alternative, he decided to help himself, and others, by take matters into his own hands.
This idea may seem simple, but the implementation tends to carry problems for online retailers. For instance, some books are often out of stock. Another issue is that many students cannot afford to pay for overnight delivery, while they also cannot manage to succeed in class while waiting for the book to arrive.
Baldo's site attempts to solve this problem by taking control out of the hands of shipping companies, and putting it into the hands of students.
www.Bookpostings.com is just that. It is a place to find postings about books. Potential buyers find books that are sold by students at their school and contact the seller. There is no handling of money by Baldo. "There are no transactions done online, so everything is done locally," Baldo says. At the moment, SMC is the only college with postings.
Baldo handles promotion for the site, which is done in the form of bookmarks. Baldo says that he typically passes out 100 to 150 bookmarks a day.
The seeds of Baldo's idea were then planted. After a year of strategizing and hiring a programmer to build the website, Baldo launched www.bookpostings.com in the fall of 2008.
Things started slowly for the site, but eventually picked up. Baldo says, "I was excited when I launched the site, but I was getting really pessimistic when I didn't see that many postings for the first few weeks. Then I had winter break and when I came back on I had 75 to 85 posts."
Many start-up companies fail before even getting the opportunity to sell anything. By competing against online behemoths such as Craigslist and Amazon, Baldo realizes the task that lies ahead. However, he still sees beauty in the struggle. "I started the website and knew it wouldn't be as profitable," he says. "I wanted to start a business that did not have to be profitable but could still be rewarding."
It is this attribute which makes Baldo's site that much more favorable for the college student. No one knows more about a college student's financial plight than another college student.
While others might take such a website and bombard it with paid advertising to maximize profits, Baldo once again displays his benevolence. Baldo says, "Honestly, I don't expect to make any money from the website. What I want to do is provide advertising space for other start-ups as well, and not charge them anything for that. Kind of like an activist for entrepreneurship."
He hopes to expand the number of college listings to include UCLA or USC by the end of the spring semester.
As for the future, Baldo hopes to transfer to a business school and attain a master's degree. His top choice is Stern School of Business at NYU.
In the meantime, Baldo the businessman continues to exhibit the craftiness of a college student. "I actually used the site to buy my Econ 2 book that I needed," he said.