Babson senior Hugo Finklestien launched a mobile student market place this September; right around when most of us were struggling to move into new dorms or new apartments. Finklestien learned about the struggles of moving apartments early in his college career. As a sophomore, when he moved into a new apartment in Brookline, he realized that the problem of moving wasn’t so much a moving problem but more of a student problem. His moving experience – trading old text books, buying “new-used” fridges – proved that students were both lazy and broke, and that there were few tools in the market that address the needs of students specifically. Finklestien was aware of options like ‘Babson Free and For Sale’, but thought that there was room for improvement. Finklestien said, “The business idea started early that semester, while I was hanging out on my porch”. He and his roommate started working on ‘Olѐ’, their would-be student market place, but the trials of college life distracted the two from staying on task, until the spring of Hugo’s junior year.
That spring, Finklestien traveled to San Francisco, with Babson’s study-away program, and focused all of his attention on reformulating the idea and refocusing his effort. During his semester in San Francisco, Finklestien worked with classmates to research the market, re-design the user interface, and practice his pitch to venture capitalists. While away, Olѐ also hired a new CTO. Finklestien credits the program for keeping him motivated and highly recommends San Francisco study-away to any aspiring business owners.
A few months later, a summer’s worth of working and forgoing internship opportunities, and two versions under his belt, Olѐ is in its second version of the application, which is available to students with a Babson, Boston Unversity, or Northeastern email.
A college email is required for membership, because Olѐ’s goal is to solve some of the struggles associated with earning and saving money as a student. Hugo decided that a digital market place, where students can transact with each other, would be the best solution. That’s why Olѐ takes no commission from either buyers or sellers who transact on the app.
The app is fairly simple to use, so if you’re in the market for anything from a used fridge to tutoring services, all you have to do is download ‘Olѐ! Student Marketplace’ from the app store, search for the product or service you want, or create a news feed post that describes what you’re looking for. The process is just as easy for a seller. If you want to get rid of some old textbooks or make extra cash cat-sitting, post a picture of your product, list a price, and wait for a buyer to make an offer.