Clay McMickens '12 is part of a new trend on campus - students starting their own companies.
Clay founded the MuleMarket, an online textbook marketplace exclusively for Colby students. The Echo ran an article about his company last September. I met with Clay last week to talk about where the MuleMarket is going, and the startup fever that seems to be hitting Colby.
The MuleMarket currently acts like an eBay for textbooks. Students put books up for sale and find books by course. About 250 students are registered on the site and over $15,000 worth of textbooks are currently up for sale.
Listing a textbook is free - the company makes their revenue from the transaction and delivery fee when a student buys a book. Clay said he was fed up with selling his textbooks at the bookstore at a considerable loss. His company's model is a cheaper and more efficient system for trading textbooks.
Looking to grow
But the MuleMarket isn't just about textbooks, Clay said. They're looking to expand to bigger items in the future, like fridges, televisions, and furniture.
Much of Seniors' furniture gets donated to the RESCUE sale at the end of the year, but Clay knows there's a much bigger market waiting to be captured. The RESCUE sale is only for one or two days - with the MuleMarket he wants to extend that market to 365 days a year. Clay wants to be "like Craigslist for Colby Students."
Polar Bear Market? Bobcat Market?
Colby is the MuleMarket's "beta test," as Clay explains. Once the company matures he wants to expand it to other schools. On how he wants to get there, Clay explained that he is intent on listening to his customers' needs - "there are 1800 kids at Colby, and I want to hear what each of them has to say."
Startup culture infiltrating Colby
There's no doubt the MuleMarket is part of an upward trend in the number and awareness of startups at Colby. Students who once planned on diving into corporate America are now considering working at a startup after graduation.
Clay believes that until now, Colby students saw the job world as an opaque mass. But startups are challenging that perspective. Last summer Clay interned for betterment.com, a New York City based startup that helps people who aren't familiar with investing money invest. He said that working at a startup was miles more educational than the big-company internships he's had. "[The people there] know they're going to be grinding away, working long hours, but they love it, that's the culture."
Clay will hand over the MuleMarket's operations to juniors this May to pursue a career in the startup world. About his interest in startups, he said "I believe you can make a living and do something important at the same time."