Students fundraise for website to help U. community connect
Campuses nationwide are cluttered with bulletin boards, but some think it is time to make outdated technology a thing of the past.
Three Rutgers Business School students are creating a website, CampusBord, to update students on campus happenings. They are currently relying on crowd funding to get the project off the ground.
Christopher Akparanta, Chris Arthur and Paul Aderinto, Rutgers Business School seniors, came up with the idea at the “Blerdology #BlackHack Hackathon” last April, where their prototype won first prize, Aderinto said.
When thinking of the idea for CampusBord, the three thought about the innumerable bulletin boards around campus and how ineffective they are at reaching students. Too many students do not hear of interesting events until after they happen, he said.
“We brainstormed a bunch of things [for the hackathon],” Aderinto said. “We tried to think of something that would have made the college experience a little better for us.”
One administrator took a particular interest in their idea, and really helped it get off the ground, Aderinto said.
The administrator was Brett Gilbert, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Global Business.
In an effort to create a crowd-funding platform for Rutgers students, Gilbert created Funds Students, Partners, Alumni, Resources, and Community, an initiative to help get the word out about projects like CampusBord.
“We wanted to try and remove the financial obstacle that keeps people from starting businesses,” she said. “So we thought that helping them crowd-fund for their businesses would get more students interested in pursuing the companies that aid them while they’re at Rutgers.”
When the group finished their project, they envisioned that many universities would use CampusBord, including Rutgers. For now, they seek funds to support building the website.
To that end, Aderinto said the three have started a RocketHub campaign to ask for funding from anyone willing to donate — namely students, alumni and other members of the Rutgers community. RocketHub is a website that functions similarly to its rival Kickstarter.
In a video to promote their project on RocketHub, Akparanta explains the high cost of such an ambitious project.
“Website development and maintenance is a really expensive process,” he said. “We want to provide a quality service, and as such need to hire quality web developers.”
After consulting with a few development companies, the team calculated they had to raise at least $50,000 to get the website fully functional and support it afterwards, though they have set a more modest goal of $35,000 for their RocketHub campaign.
Aderinto said the actual creation of the website would be left to professional web developers.
“We have a prototype [of the website], and it’s not quite where we want it to be,” Aderinto said. “But it does help us get our point across as to what we’re working towards.”
The costs of the project are not only monetary. Aderinto said they have trouble undertaking the project while balancing their school and work responsibilities.
“We all have such hectic schedules. We all take a lot of classes and have outside jobs. Like right now, I work two jobs,” Aderinto said. “The best time we had to work on this was summertime, and even then, we’re all interning in different companies, so it is kind of a struggle.”
The trio noted that the decision to crowd-fund was risky.
Aderinto said basing the majority of a startup’s initial funding on the generosity of other people was a big leap of faith.
But Arthur said they like the message crowd funding sends to the community about their venture.
“It shows [students] that we were serious about our business and what’s going on here,” he said. “We’re trying to make something to help them.”