College students spend tons of money on expensive paper textbooks and various other paper materials and study aids. StudySoup, a startup that will be graduating from 500 Startups later today, can’t do much about the textbooks, but it is working on the additional materials and study aids.
Today, the peer-to-peer marketplace for digital materials is adding 15 new college campuses to its roster.
StudySoup will help students sell course readers (pricey custom-printed books of materials a professor has curated), lecture notes, and other study aids available digitally or that can be digitized easily (scanning a class handout, etc.).
I remember blowing tens of dollars on those pricey and wasteful readers back in my college days at UC Berkeley. I also remember students informally purchasing old readers and other materials from each other, so StudySoup’s marketplace makes total sense. Needless to say, StudySoup’s founders, Sieva Kozinsky and Jeff Silverman, got the idea during their own college experiences at UC Santa Barbara.
StudySoup also has a program called “Elite Notetaker,” which is basically a giant mind trick that gets students extra cash while fooling them into being more focused in class. Participating students get paid for their class notes (they sign up to take notes for classes they’re enrolled in), and end up making very good use of their class time.
The team originally launched in April at UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, and the University of Washington. It then added five more schools to its beta testing to continue improving the product, and now it’s launching at NYU, the University of North Carolina, Texas State, UT Austin, Santa Barbara City College, the University of Maryland, the University of Tennessee, Georgia State, the University of Georgia, the University of Minnesota, the University of Kentucky, George Washington University, Georgetown, the University of Boulder, Colorado, and Colorado State University.
For now, the team is largely focusing on the student peer-to-peer market, and its user acquisition has largely been through word-of-mouth, a bit of Facebook ad spend, and some promotion on campus through ambassadors and in-class announcements by generous professors.
It’s also got some competition from other student marketplaces like Flashnotes, and Chegg’s similar service.
StudySoup has already raised 500 Startups’ customary $100,000 investment and will be closing additional funding today, Kozinsky said in an email to VentureBeat.