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UI emphasizes online marketplace to expand sustainability

BY GABRIELLA DUNN | OCTOBER 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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A new online bartering, buying, and selling site for University of Iowa students has gained the focus of several entrepreneurial students for advancing the site’s profile on campus.

Tradepal, now a nationwide Silicon Valley start-up, contacted UI recycling coordinator Eric Holthaus to help launch the site on campus. He said he was eager to bring Tradepal to the UI in an effort to increase sustainability among students.

“It’s our goal to divert 60 percent of waste from landfill waste at the university by 2020,” he said.

When transactions are made on the Earth-friendly program, Holthaus said, a formula calculates a figure that shows users how many carbon emissions are saved by using Tradepal.

The site is comparable to Craigslist but with a more limited community because the site is restricted to students in each university. On Tradepal users are also able to barter with one another — a feature not accessible on Craigslist.

“Let’s say I want the first season of ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” Holthaus said. “You can chat back and forth. You can make transactions and tailor them to your personal interests in a dynamic way that you can’t on Craigslist.”

When presented with the opportunity to bring Tradepal to the UI, Holthaus said, he thought the campus launch would be a great opportunity for students in a Social Entrepreneurship class led by Joseph Sulentic, a lecturer in the UI Tippie College of Business.

Sulentic’s 70 students in Social Entrepreneurship are working on a marketing campaign for the site. The student-led effort started the project during the last week of September.

Sulentic said the class is divided into seven groups for the project.

“They all have their own type of responsibilities,” he said. “We’re just trying to give the students the realistic experience that they would go through if they were working for a social enterprise or a nonprofit.”

Their goal, he said, is to broaden campus awareness for the site and add 4,000 UI students to the site by the end of the semester. If the class members can reach their goal of adding 4,000 students to the site, Sulentic said, that could place the UI in the top five or 10 in the nation for Tradepal sites. So far, he said, the class has recruited around 400 people to the site.

The largest event the class has been preparing for has been the official launch party for Tradepal, which will be at the Summit, 10 S. Clinton St., during the first week of November.

University students have been optimistic about the potential for the site on campus.

UI senior Nichole Sweet said she believes the site could be popular for students who want to trade textbooks with each other.

Senior Brittany Hurst thinks the site could be well-received by students and will be a safer environment than Craigslist.

“I see a lot of students on Facebook all the time exchanging different items, tickets, whatever,” she said. “I feel like with Craigslist, there’s a lot of creepy people on there, and I don't foresee that happening with this website because it is just students — I think it’s a good idea.”


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