Buck$ell aims to connect campus

Siobhan Murray

The website BuckSell.com will open to the campus community as a tool to buy and sell goods and services locally on Nov. 10. The project is the work of University students Thomas Zhu ’14, Jesse Dondero ’13, Alik Kurbanov ’14, Troy Ren ’14 and Nicole Papaleo ’14 who started the company Esperon Technology, LLC and began work on the website in January of this year. Their goal is to make a “one stop shop” for students to exchange books, clothes, electronics, household items, tickets, vehicles and other services such as rides, tutoring, jobs and volunteering. Students who wish to participate in the earlier Nov. 5 private launch can email [email protected].

Who were the creators of Buck$ell?

Thomas Zhu: “Five current Bucknell students, including me, started a company this year. I am the co-founder and chairman of the board. Jesse Dondero is the CEO, Alik Kurbanov is the COO, Troy Ren is the CAO, Nicole Papaleo is the CMO. We tried different ideas at the beginning. Then I proposed this idea, which is to start a website to help Bucknellians to buy, sell and exchange used goods and post services on a more user-friendly online platform.”

Jesse Dondero: “We also have a whole marketing team that includes Jen Lassen ’15, Sam Schlitzer ’14 and Elise Perazzini ’15.”

What exactly would you describe it as: a website, message center app, etc.?

Dondero: “I would define the website as a much more intuitive version of Message Center with many more capabilities.”

Zhu: “We would like to create a free and easy to use online platform to help Bucknellians to save money from traditional online shopping and selling. For example, every year students need to sell used books and household stuff (lamps, chairs, etc). Instead of letting other dealers collect them and resell to students to gain a big profit, students can directly sell and buy from other students. Our mottos are ‘Make a quick Buck? Sell your stuff!’ and ‘One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.'”

Is the service free?

Zhu: “All Bucknellians who have an ‘.edu’ email address can register and use our services for free. We will also engage Lewisburg small businesses with students as well. The Bucknell community will get the first-hand news or discount about Lewisburg area enterprises. We want to help small business owners and boost the local economy.”

Where did the inspiration for such a great tool came from?

Zhu: “I got this idea from my personal experience. Every year I have to go to all the websites to buy books and also sell them at a very cheap price to dealers in the end. Beside books, I usually buy stuff online. The shipping cost and all the extra paper boxes make me feel that I am wasting money and killing trees. On the other hand, Message Center cannot provide pictures and I always receive product information that I don’t need. If I need a ride, I need to go to LC to check the physical board. Some of my friends also want to keep privacy on what they buy and sell instead of sending a message to the whole campus to find a seller or buyer.”

Dondero: “If you want something for your downtown house or dorm room, such as a TV, it can be difficult or even unreliable (referring to Craigslist or local classifieds) to find someone offering that good. Also, Buck$ell is a great place for people to go on and list services, such as tutoring, as there is a review function for people to rate the quality of the service they received.”

Can you describe the development process?

Dondero: “We began to determine the needs of the site as well as build the business plan, and in the beginning of September hired a development team, operating both in the US and India, to begin the programming process. It has been a fun and exciting process that I recommend anyone who is given the chance to pursue takes.”

Can you tell me a little bit more about your company?

Zhu: “The company name is Esperon Technology, LLC. Esperon means ‘hope’ in Esperanto, which is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. We came together because of the passion for being young entrepreneurs in the 21st Century and we were inspired by our distinguished alumni at Professor Gruver’s leadership conferences in New York City and Philadelphia. Also we are very grateful to the great resources and strong support from the University faculty and administrators and Bucknell SBDC.”

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