I heard a lot about college classified sites late last year. A few of them were dormitem, CollegeMedium and chegg. AFAIK Chegg is the leader in this niche. They got $2.2 Million funding in January 2007 and got a $500,000 funding in an earlier round.
I was looking at traffic stats for all these sites on Alexa (don’t have an alternate) and found all of them are pretty much flat. As expected, Chegg lead in the traffic but didn’t impress me that much. It seems like they started really great, but are going down fast. I don’t know if this is related to college schedules, spring break, etc. or simply traffic dropping due to various reasons like competitors (CL, Ebay).
I understand that students need a place to buy/sell cheap books and other stuff. I feel Chegg is easy and simple to use for a student. I am trying to understand why, with an existing market and good usability, these sites are unable to gain momentum?
I think a student does not want to get limited to a site. It is easier to pay and exchange books “locally” on the campus, but you lose the ability to search for cheaper books elsewhere. As a student, I used campusi to find cheap books. The best part of campusi or other similar sites is getting results from a lot of sellers and getting them sorted by price including shipping price in most cases. Most of the time constraints to get the book(s) within a week or so, but I still tried to get the book as cheap as I could. Some of the times I used to order books from Canadian sites or sellers living in East coast.
I think syndicating their data to sites like campusi would help these college classifieds to get an existing user base and an incentive for the sellers to post stuff on these sites. I noticed that dormitem is already syndicating their data to edgeio and Oodle, I think they need to do more than this, but they are on right path.
Syndicating data to Edgeio and Oodle is simple, as both of these sites are looking for this data. However, partnering with these aggregators would be hard as they thrive on afiliate income. Chegg (and others) need to provide some inentive to the aggregators.