14 December 2011

An Indian eBAY For Class Notes

Have you ever thought in your college days to make money out of your notes that you pen down in your class and tutorials? Isn’t it a brilliant idea? Notehall provides a platform to sell your notes and earn that extra pocket money while you still learn. The company strives to become eBay out of India.
An Indian eBAY For Class Notes

21 percent of the college students and 14 percent of the school going kids use internet in India. This provides a vast scope for the companies to enter into the e-learning and notes sharing space. NotehallIndia is a new player in this space. An online document platform that enables students to buy and sell class notes online, Notehall was established in 2008 and is a marketplace for study guides, lecture notes, outlines and reading notes. The founders of Notehall; Sean Conway, Justin Miller, D.J. Stephan and Fadi Chalfoun; were the finalists in the America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs. Established in 2008, Notehall provides access to documents only after the user purchases credits via the site’s virtual currency system and when he purchases credits and redeems them, Notehall receives a commission that varies based on the product.

Sundeep Mahajan found a brilliant scope in the space in India and he brought Notehall’s Interest for India to offer the unique business model to college students in India. But, how does NotehallIndia work? Mahajan says, “NotehallIndia is based on a credit system, which allows for university students to exchange their course documents and share their university notes while earning money and supplying additional study tools. Students are rewarded for their academic success by getting paid to share and sell their school notes and study materials from their very own lectures and student notes.”

There are 20 million university students pursuing graduate level courses in India and if the number of students in 10+ and those preparing for entrance exams and doing masters courses is added up, this number is significantly greater. Talking about the scope the business model holds, Mahajan adds, “Students at all levels except certain master level courses require notes and share notes. At present photocopy have control over the sharing of the notes, but the photocopy shops do not pay students money for giving them their notes and even if a student sells it, it is a onetime sale for the student. We aim to reach the student directly and give him/her an incentive to upload their content and be able to offer it to other students removing the geographical and demographic divide.” The company targets to reach out to just one percent of this population of 17.1 million students per year.

Commenting on the competitors, Mahajan further adds, “At the current time we have no online competitors that have the unique business model that we have. Still the photocopy shops in and around college campuses have been our main area of concern, as the culture of students waiting in line to photocopy materials has been a way of life for most college students. However, what we offer in comparison is what makes students reach out to our unique servie. NotehallIndia not only pays students each time their document is sold, it also provides them with a source for guaranteed good quality, concise and comprehensive material, all at the click of a button.” The notes being sold can be acquired from any college of a given university, and at any time of the day or night.

NotehallIndia is also a part of a GO GREEN Initiative to save paper as the supplemental material is in a digital viewable format. The service also allows students to do window shopping for the students as they can preview up to a 30 percent of each document. “We are very confident with the content that is posted where we offer a full refund in case the student is not satisfied. It is this feature that makes NotehallIndia a unique and stand apart from the offline competition,” says Mahajan.

 NotehallIndia targets college students in undergraduate, and postgraduate; tutors that want to share their notes online, coaching centers that want to expand their content to get more students that are not in the geographic vicinity of the center and academic authors that want to sell their e-books online. The total number of users of the site from July till date is more than 4000 and is growing and in America, the user counts more than 250,000. Till date, the company has not raised a single penny from investors, rather it is a bootstrapped company from the savings of Mahajan and his family members.

 Talking about the road map ahead, Mahajan says, “Currently we are present in IP University, Amity University, Delhi University and Manipal University offering our services to nearly 7 lakh students in close to 150 colleges. Currently we are focused around Delhi (NCR) with the exception of Manipal. Within the next two years we plan to expand into cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar, and Chandigarh.”

On one-to-one interaction with various students from diverse streams all over the campus, NotehallIndia has found zeal of hope in many potential notes sellers who want to earn while they learn. On the other hand, potential buyers have become far more accessible and specific. Since August 2011, the company has seen a 50 percent increase in uploaded notes and a similar percentage of increase in user registration. These increasing figures shows that the concept is already o its way to becoming a huge success as the acquisition of Notehall by Chegg gave it International approval of the business model.