College Students Sell Flashcards and Notes to Pay for Back-to-School
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) It's back-to-school season already, and most college students are scratching their heads, worried about the high price tag for reading materials on their fall semester syllabi. But Laura Gayle, a rising sophomore at Florida State University, is not concerned, because she has a secret trick to help her schoolmates cure their headaches: selling her class notes through Flashnotes.com.
By providing a platform for college students to share their study guides and in-class materials, Flashnotes has developed a win-win situation for both students who are notes-seekers and students who are notes-takers. Founded in 2009 by Mike Matousek, a graduate of Kent State University, Flashnotes has become a resourceful marketplace to benefit student users to learn, share and make money.
That is exactly the dynamic solution Flashnotes intended to create. After making $1,000 by successfully selling his math study guide to his classmates during his senior year in college, Matousek realized it was a good way to push him to take notes more carefully; students would come to him for additional questions they had from the class. Simultaneously, he was able to develop a relationship with them.
"They would be open to getting help when they are stuck, and they would ask me questions that they wouldn't have, so they won't fall behind," says Matousek.
Currently based in Boston, the student-generated content sharing platform has attracted students from 367 colleges and universities across the country and even L'Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec. Over the last year, Flashnotes saw a 175% increase in the number of its users. According to Matousek, his team of 19 and he most recently gained $3.6 million in series A round investment led by Stage 1 Ventures, with Runa Capital, Soft Bank Capital and Atlas Venture participating; Flashnotes has raised a total of $6.6 million to date.
"We are really looking to growing and thriving for the next few years," says the 25-year-old CEO.
Flashnotes offers the flexibility for sellers to decide the price of their notes. Gayle, thus, sells most of her notes, 20 to 30 pages bundles per class, for $10 each. The price varies due to the subject, format and how much time and effort she's put in. If her notes are sold, she gets her "paycheck" from Flashnotes every Friday through PayPal, and she keeps 70% of the price of her notes, while Flashnotes keeps a 30% commission. When Gayle first started her note-selling business on Flashnotes last October, she had earned $1,500 within one semester.
"I don't really need a job, because I'm able to sell," she told MainStreet.
For cash-strapped college students looking at stifling student loan debt and grim employment prospects, this extra cash can be a welcome boon. For others, it's simply an efficient strategy to defray everyday costs while having a little extra pocket cash on hand.