Sorry for the bad audio and broken english, not easy to pitch in my third language. For clarification read the script below.

Questions? No problem we have great customer service      call: 305-613-2587      email:   

Video script.

(Throw books) My books are worth nothing! At least that’s what I felt my freshman year when I tried to sell my books to the bookstore. CollegeBoard estimates that students will spend over $1000 every year on textbooks, and we know that when you go back to the bookstore to sell them back they pay you in one dollar bills.

When I looked for alternatives I though “Oh maybe I can sell on Amazon” but then I realized that I would need to take those books home over the summer and ship them as soon as they sold, which was definitely a pain for me, I [am] a student, right?
I also thought I could sell on Craigslist but no one is really using that to buy textbooks, so… it’s a pain. Plus it’s really hard to find the book, you need to pay cash, people bargain for prices… I don’t want to deal with that.

So I thought, “there should be… wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a better way to sell your books to your peers?” And that’s what we started. It’s called ShelfRelief, and it’s a combination of Craigslist and Amazon at your campus.

ShelfRelief lets any student post their books for sale, and it becomes available only to other students at their campus. Any other student can go (online), pay with a credit card and buy that book. As soon as that happens both students get a notification to meet on campus and transfer the book. After that they go back to their rooms, they confirm the transaction and the money is transferred (via PayPal). This way, we have a better deal for both, instead of getting $3 for your books from the bookstore you can probably get $50, and instead of buying that book for $100 you can probably get it for $60. So, everyone is benefiting.

We are a trustworthy, peer to peer marketplace at every campus and we are helping students save money on textbooks.

We launched at Duke University about a year and a half ago and so far we have gotten 35% of Duke students to sign up and we have processed over $35,000 worth of books. We need an extra push to make this available at every school, we already have a couple thousand students from different universities signed up to our website but we really need a marketing push to make this work as well as it [has been] working at Duke.

The $50,000 will help our amazing team (disregard this half a second) make our website work everywhere. We are not just some random team with an idea. We have been executing successfully at Duke and we believe we can do that at any other school with help of our great marketing campaign, our campus reps and our optimized ads on Facebook and Google. Thank you very much.

Idea Summary

(I am trying to answer each question in the shortest way possible, I don't want to bore you with details, if you want the full business plan just email us at Thanks)

Write a summary paragraph: In about a paragraph, describe what problem you are solving, how many people are experiencing the problem, and what your solution is.

We are helping college students buy and sell textbooks with one another by combining Craigslist and Amazon on campus. There are 19 million students enrolled in college now and for years we have been complaining about the bookstore ripping us off, finally we found a solution. Combining the localized, peer-to-peer trustworthiness of local marketplaces with the technological global marketplace. We take credit cards, update posts automatically and make it as easy as possible for students to sell their books to their peers.

Tell us more about the problem you are solving.  Why is it a problem and how big of a problem is it?

CollegeBoard estimates that students spend over $1000 on textbooks every year and when we try to sell them back we get offered less than $100. Most students we talked to are frustrated, and they have demonstrated that they are looking for a solution. Over the past year 35% of Duke students (2272) have signed up to our website and successfully sold over $35,000 worth of books to one another.

Who do you think your target customers are and how many are there?

There are 19 Million college students, we are reaching 6.7 million in the next year by opening our platform to 450 universities, after that we will try to get as close to the 19 million as we can.

Do you think your customers are looking for a solution?

Definitely. People at other schools have asked us to open our platform for them. We are growing school by school. We are launching our website at 40 colleges in the Spring 2012, and 450 colleges in the Fall 2012. Students are so willing to sell to their peers that they are posting books on facebook, but paying cash and scrolling down to find the books is a hassle.

Tell us about your solution.  How does it work and what are the benefits?

Any student can post a book for sale. That book is then searchable in our site by Author, Title, ISBN and even Department and Course at the university. To buy a book just add it to your cart and pay with credit card. Both students get a notification via email asking them to meet on campus and exchange the book, the money is then transferred via PayPal. We combined the localized CraigsList with the technology of Amazon, making this service the most convenient for college students.

What's your plan for developing your product or service including some dates and milestones?  

The website was launched in November 2010 and we have 35% of Duke students signed up. Now we are opening the service to 40 Universities and in the Spring to 450. We haven't spent much money on the site and after this semester we are already making good profits. We also donate money to SOS Children's Villages in Bolivia. We have planned a big donation for may, providing school materials for 150 children, as we grow we hope to have a bigger impact on education.

How much funding to get to a company exit?

We only need $200,000 to be able to sustain ourselves as a company. That money will help us get to the 450 Universities and then we can run with our profits. Our costs are minimal, we don't need many employees. We have no warehouses and there's no shipping costs. We don't manage inventory either. There are many ways we are saving money and that goes back to the students.

Tell us about yourselves (Who is on your team, what are you studying, what year are you)

Yuqian Li is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at Duke. He has won various awards internationally including the 2011 ACM/ICPC Mid-Atlantic Regional, and gotten a second place worldwide in the 2008 Bitwise online programming contest. He has also worked at Google.
Tito Bohrt is a Behavioral Economics Major at Duke University. He has started several small-scale businesses since he was in middle school and he is a co-founder of InCube, the Entrepreneurial Selective Living group at Duke. Tito worked under Michael Brehm in Germany gaining skills in social media marketing.
August Campbell is a student-athlete and Sociology major at Duke. His influence on campus, passion for marketing and ability to organize and create replicable marketing campaigns will allow ShelfRelief to expand quickly across campuses. This small, but powerful team brings passion and dedication for helping students getting more for their textbooks.

Use of Funds - if you won $50,000 how would you use it?

The initial $50,000 from the Start-Up Challenge will allow us to expand to our initial 40 schools and show that we can replicate the amazing results that we have had at Duke so far. $5,000 will be used for marketing materials, including flyers, banners, staple guns and tape. $25,000 will be used to pay our campus representatives based on their performance during their 6 week employment. $5,000 will be used for online marketing. $2,500 will be used to cover our yearly running cost, including hosting, monthly PayPal and SendGrid fees and others.  $2,500 will be used to outsource the scraping of college bookstores to make our launch at other schools possible. $5,000 will be used for legal consultations as our startup grows rapidly. The final $5,000 will be used to pay our current team members that have opted for a combination of salary and equity, instead of only equity in the company.

Anything else you would like to share with us? 

We are super excited about this. I was present at the 2010 and 2011 Duke StartUp Challenge. The number of teams who claim that they have established contacts and are ready to execute peaks as the competition takes place. Weeks later, just as 70Sesame did last year, these teams receive the money and take a corporate job. I'm just hoping that this year the judges consider the teams willingness to execute and current results instead of basing their decision on an appealing idea.