Mike Meyers grew up in the DMV area before heading off to college at the University of South Carolina. While in college, Meyers found himself in a situation familiar to many students — he needed to make a bit of money. So Meyers took a look around and decided that selling some of his stuff — books he no longer needed, furniture he wasn’t using, etc. — was the best way to go.
But how to find buyers?
Meyers identified three possible marketplaces: eBay, Facebook and Craigslist. But almost as quickly, he identified issues with each of those platforms. eBay? High shipping costs. Craigslist? Well, the safety issue, of course. And Facebook? With so much content, its easy for your stuff to get lost. And then, in fall 2013, the idea hit him — he’d make his own platform. An “exclusive marketplace” that’s local to college campuses (or college towns, should a given location boast more than one university), where students can buy and sell goods and services.
And so, in 2014, at the University of South Carolina, Tradeversity was born.
Essentially, Tradeversity is a free app for iOS and Android that students can sign up to use — all they need is an active .edu address. Tradeversity does have in-app payment and the company takes a cut on any sale made that way, but they also allow students to use cash. Ultimately, Meyers said, the company’s revenue model will lie in data. What are students buying and selling and when are they buying or selling it? Well, wouldn’t you like to know.
Since launch at USC, Tradeversity has expanded to 20 colleges around the country, including, most recently, four in the area: George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University and George Mason University. Where the service goes next, Meyers told Technical.ly, is determined by user interest — students signing up for the platform that’s not yet available in their community. This is, strictly speaking, how Tradeversity ended up in D.C. — coming back to Meyers’ hometown is just an added bonus, he said.
“Washington is the perfect market for Tradeversity because of its active university communities,” Meyers said in a press release. “The combination of the overwhelming amount of requests to focus our resources here, the plethora of vibrant campuses in this energized, top 10 market, and the area’s flourishing tech scene made D.C. the obvious pick for this launch.”
In order to raise awareness on campus, Tradeversity depends on a network of over 40 student interns (working for college credit) who help them get in on the ground level. It doesn’t hurt that the company’s leadership team is just out of college themselves — Meyers is just 24.
Tradeversity faces various marketplace competition — a quick Google search reveals other options in CampusWall and Curbbed, as well as OG sales methods like regular Craigslist or message boards or internal Facebook groups. Still, with the demand for Tradeversity thus far, perhaps the market hasn’t been cornered just yet. In a conversation with Technical.ly, Meyers also mentioned ongoing talks with university admins interested in having Tradeversity create a custom, white label marketplace specifically for their school. So maybe that’s a path forward. Only time will tell.
Not bad for an idea that has its roots in that perennial college student search for a little extra cash.