By Jacob Schaperow, editor-in-chief, @jschap1
The Maryland Free & For Sale Facebook group may be a familiar buying-and-selling platform for many students at this university, but there is a new, international challenger coming to campus.
Group.Market is an Israeli startup providing a dedicated application for buying and selling items and services specifically among members of the university community. Last Thursday at Maryland Hillel, Group.Market representative Moe Mernick spoke to a group of business- and entrepreneurial-minded students about the startup’s foray into the U.S. market.
Sophomore Sam Koralnik, student ambassador for Group.Market Maryland, organized the event, which was co-sponsored by TAMID Israel investment group. About a dozen students came to the event, which took place at Maryland Hillel.
Mernick, who does international marketing for Group.Market, is coordinating the buying-and-selling community’s U.S. launch at this university, as well as Cornell University, Binghamton University, Yeshiva University, University of Michigan, Western University and Northwestern University. The company chose to launch at college campuses because there is no shipping challenge in a community where most people are within a 15-minute walk of each other, Mernick said.
AppCoin, Group.Market’s parent company, focuses on the concept of micro-communities, Mernick said.
“We’re turning communities into economies, so we’re helping groups, organizations, interests, locations, affiliations, all these kinds of communities, tap into their economic value,” he said.
Members of a community can buy or sell items on the app. Item listings include title, category, price, a photo, and shipping options – either self-pickup or postal delivery. Payment methods include PayPal, Venmo, credit or debit card, or Apple Pay.
“It’s a very easy-to-use interface, beautifully made, and it really connects students in a very personal way,” Koralnik, a government and politics major, said. “And, it’s also a trustworthy website. Like, you know who you’re dealing with, and that’s something that other sites and other apps can’t compete with.”
Sophomore math and materials science engineering major Zev Kaplowitz attended the Sept. 3 discussion. While he said he thought the startup could become big at this university, he does not on using the application.
“I always think in terms of the biking community, so they would love to buy and sell different bike components and whatnot, so I was thinking about getting involved in terms of telling them about it, but personally, I don’t feel that I need to use it,” Kaplowitz, who works at the campus bike shop, said.
Group.Market can be downloaded as a free app for Android or iOS and can also be used entirely from a desktop. Students can sign up to use the app via Facebook and buy-and-sell goods and services among their peers. The startup is investor-funded, so there are no fees associated with using the app.
Mernick said Group.Market is looking for student promoters to do social media and business partnership outreach to help the platform get a foothold at this university.
“The focus was to try to bring together a group of interested students who would like to become involved. Not just to hear about another app, but become involved and promote this platform to their peers,” Mernick said.
“We definitely found a bunch of kids who are excited to be promoting this within their social groups, and it’s a good team that we can move forward with this coming year,” Koralnik said.
The promoters are trying out an incentivization program through this Sunday with cash prizes for users who recruit the most people to start using the app.
Mernick invited students interested in getting involved to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: Mernick spoke at Maryland Hillel on Sept. 3.