Do you know the story behind the Online Garage Sale on Facebook? Do you know the team behind the scene? Come and find out about true student entrepreneurs in Thunderbird.
Online Garage Sale was founded by Team Ventura on June 26, 2011. The Facebook webpage is a platform for T-birds to sell and buy stuff when they move in and out. As of Feb 25, 2012, the website has 469 members.
Das Tor: Can you share with us what inspired you to create the Online Garage Sale?
Team Ventura: Ever since we joined Thunderbird in Fall 2010, we were thinking about what we can do for the school, how we can do something different and have an impact on the school. We don’t want to complain about what the school does not do well. We just want to do things to make Thunderbird a better place for everybody.
We are business students, there are many entrepreneurs and faculty resources available at Thunderbird, but we don’t have any business activities on campus. We feel Thunderbird needs to have more student projects.
Das Tor: Why specifically did you create Online Garage Sale?
Team Ventura: We noticed that students come and go, either graduate, or go for overseas programs, exchange programs etc. There are many students wanting to sell their stuff and many students wanting to buy. But there is no responsive platform to let each other know in time. The garage sale function in MTB is not really user friendly. At the same time, we noticed that Facebook is very popular in the U.S. and at Thunderbird. Facebook makes communication easier because everyone at Thunderbird has a Facebook account. That is how we came up with the idea of creating a garage sale page on Facebook.
Das Tor: Did the team talk to the school to get support from the school at the beginning?
Team Ventura: No. We did not talk to the school at the beginning. We were concerned that the school might block the website because it is kind of a student business on campus.
Das Tor: When did you let the school know about the activity you are doing?
Team Ventura: We did not let them know until we had 200 members. We felt we would have more bargaining power to negotiate with the school at that point if they tried to block the website.
Das Tor: Has the team run into any obstacles at the beginning of the operation?
Team Ventura: At the beginning, we needed to devote lots of time to set up the webpage and think about all the details. There were many technical details we needed to solve.
Das Tor: Have you ever had doubts about this idea?
Team Ventura: It is a good idea. We were confident it would work out. We never thought about giving up. To make this idea happen was our top priority back at that time. Our main concerns are how to make the webpage work fluently and how to better serve our customers, the student community.
Das Tor: How did your team expand membership to 474 in such a short period?
Team Ventura: Word of mouth. At the beginning we mainly tried to get our friends to sign up but it was very slow. But gradually, our members started to invite their friends to join.
Das Tor: How does the team feel about this accomplishment?
Team Ventura: We are very happy to see the webpage running so well and also proud of ourselves. We were given the True Spirit award by TSG in Fall 2012.
Das Tor: Does the team have any plans to make the website profitable?
Team Ventura: Yes. This is our ultimate goal for this webpage and we have been thinking about it since its establishment. But we are not ready for it yet. The new team will continue to explore new initiatives to make that happen.
Das Tor: Has anybody approached your team for advertisement opportunities on the garage sale webpage?
Team Ventura: Yes. A few people approached us for advertisement opportunity. However, we don’t want to do that. We don’t want to make the webpage profit through advertisement because it is not what our customers (students) want.
Das Tor: What is the team’s next move for the Online Garage Sale?
Team Ventura: We plan to expand the Online Garage Sale service into collecting and storing items. By doing this, Online Garage Sale can help graduating students find a good use for their unneeded items, and also help incoming students find inexpensive stuff when they first move in. So, essentially, Online Garage Sale is meeting student needs by bridging the gap between different trimesters. Ventura also plans to collect some items to donate to charity, and will organize some collection drives in the near future.
Additionally, we have launched a new service for T-birds lately, the “Restaurant Mania for T-birds”. “Restaurant Mania for T-birds” provides a platform to share restaurant info around Thunderbird campus with T-birds.
“Restaurant Mania for T-birds” provides a platform to share restaurant info around Thunderbird campus with T-birds. Its service is also provided on Facebook. It was launched on Jan 30, 2012, and it has 91 members as of Feb 25.
The Ventura team includes 6 members: Michael Hsia, Sam Hung, Mac Nokami, Ramkumar Ganesan, Vinay Parvathaneni and Yuki Iizuka.
Michael, Sam and Mac will graduate this spring. After graduation, Michael plans to look for a job in the finance area in U.S. Sam will go back to Taiwan to take care of the family business, and at the same time, he wants to start another business which is related to Online Selling. Mac plans to go back to Japan to set up his own business – the MisoSoup guest house information website. This website provides housing information especially to help foreigners solve the housing problem when they first move to Japan. Website: www.miso–soup.com/english/
Messages from Ramkumar Ganesan, Vinay Parvathaneni and Yuki Iizuka
Ramkumar: Thunderbird is a great platform for us to realize our entrepreneurial dream. We seek the support of the T-birds to make Ventura a success.
Vinay: Thunderbird stresses the importance of networking and alumni in our job search after graduation; but through Ventura, we’re showing how networking and alumni can help new students from their first day at Thunderbird
Yuki: As a core member of Ventura, I would want to maintain and increase the value of our group and try to give something back to the Thunderbird community.