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June 17, 2009

The Issue Facing College Students Gets Online, Chegg.com — A Place Where College Students Can Rent or Buy the Textbooks They Need for Their Courses

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — admin @ 2:22 am

I’m sure that among you are some college students or have children who are college students. Well, Chegg.com is the company for you. Many college students have difficulty finding the textbooks they need for their college classes, or their college bookstore might not have the textbooks required for their courses in on time for the beginning of the semester. The bookstore on many campuses might charge a hefty price for those textbooks, or in these difficult financial times, students might not have the money to buy the books from the campus bookstore. Have no fear, Chegg is here. Chegg.com has everything a college student needs for his semester at school. In order to use the services offered by Chegg.com, you must sign in and have a completed profile. Signing up for use of Chegg.com’s services is free, but where Chegg.com makes its money is in the fees for renting or buying books from its service. Even so, Chegg.com offers textbooks for college courses at a lower price than the campus bookstore.

To register into Chegg.com is very simple. First you need to type in your email address, type in a password and retype the password, and type in a security code, which appears as a set of numbers and letters that are in some kind of sketch and you have to type those into a box next to the image. You will then be logged into the Ghegg.com network. As you get into your new account, you will notice that your profile is only 50% finished. Then you will be prompted to edit your profile to complete it. Chegg.com will ask your name, grade level, etc. You might have to repeat this process a couple times before your profile is 100% complete. Once it is complete you are ready to go.

Chegg.com gives you the option to rent, buy, or sell textbooks. Furthermore, for those of you who like environmental policies, Chegg.com promises to plant a tree for every rental book that is returned. The way the system works is very simple. First of all, your profile will have the school that you are attending and the year you anticipate to graduate. Chegg.com will search the database of your university to have the books you will need for your courses. If you choose to rent a textbook, you will see that the standard rental period on Chegg.com is for about 125 days, the length of an average college semester in the United States. You also have the option to extend your rental period or even purchase the books you are renting. With Chegg.com, you can even sell your books, if you do not need them anymore.

Ok, all this sounds great, so how does it work? Very simple, first go to either the rental or purchase tab and type in a title of a book that is required for your class. Suppose you are a student at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana and you have a political science class and your required reading is “The Essentials of American Government,” Chegg.com will prompt you to either type in the ISBN number of that book or the title of the book. Once you type in the title, you will see that a list with all the books on that subject will appear. The book covers will also be visible, which is also useful, since some professors like to show their students what the book looks like. Just go down the list and find the book you need and click on the link next to that book. Suppose the book you are looking for is actually “The Essentials of American Government and Politics Today.” Simply click on the link next to that title. Once you have clicked on that link, you will find an overview of the book and the rental price. In this case, the rental price is $53 for the semester. If you choose to rent this book, all you need to do is to click on the rent button and the book will be placed in your shopping cart and then it is just like ordering anything else online. You proceed to the checkout and either rent or order using your credit or debit card or your paypal account. It’s that simple.

Well, the semester is over, so now the question is how do you return your textbook when you are finished with it. You just log into your account at Chegg.com and you will see four steps: rent, receive, return, and plant a tree. Click on the return option and you will see an orange button to return your rental book and a yellow-orange button to sell a book you do not need anymore. Click on the return button and theoretically you should get the sending information to send the book back. If you want to sell a book, click on the sell button and you will be prompted to enter either your book’s ISBN number or the title of the book. Once you have typed the number of this book, Chegg.com will tell you what this book is worth if they can sell it, if not Chegg.com will tell you that they cannot sell this book and will ask you if you want to donate it. If you choose to donate the book, Chegg.com will plant a tree for the book and you can click on the square of what you want to do and then you will get the sending information. Chegg.com will also offer free return shipping on returned books.

Chegg.com prides itself on being green and also has a policy of planting a tree for every book rental or book donated to the business. Chegg.com also gives tips on living green by walking or biking, using energy efficient light bulbs, selling used books, etc.

Chegg.com was started by Osman Rashid, who had over 13 years of experience with running startups and early stage companies. Mr. Rashid also works at Chegg.com as the company’s CEO. Mr. Rashid has extensive experience in software design, business management, and marketing.

Chegg.com was founded in 2003 and is a privately owned corporation based in Santa Clara, California. The company’s board of directors has two people, Eric Di Benedetto and Samual Spadafora.

Mr. Di Benedetto has over 15 years of experience in technology by working in Silicon Valley and has also invested in many Silicon Valley startups. Mr. Di Benedetto has invested in over 40 companies as an angel investor, nine of which are now publicly traded in the stock markets. In 1997, Mr. Di Benedetto has founded Convergence Partners. Mr. Di Benedetto graduated from ESSEC in Paris, France with a BA and an MBA in Mathematics and Physics.

Samual Spadafora is chairman of Chordiant Software and has over 30 years of experience in the hi-tech industry. Mr. Spadafora also worked for Sun Microsystems and also worked in key management positions at Altos Computers. Mr. Spadafora graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

Chegg.com’s investors include Active Starts, Convergence Partners, Gabriel Venture Partners, and Primera Capital.

Active Starts is an angel investment firm that primarily focuses its investments on startups in Southern California and in the software and tech industries. Active Starts help entrepreneurs attain the maximum validity of their markets that they are trying to be successful in. Active Starts is the brain child of angel investor, Eric Di Benedetto, who is also the founder of Convergance Partners. Some companies in Active Starts’ portfolio include GoFish, Plastyc, Lending Club, Rate It All, Real Travel, ChairMail, BuzzLogic, RapLeaf, IdeaBlade, and others.

Convergence Partners is a vc firm founded by both Eric Di Benedetto and Russ Irwin. Convergence Partners primarily invests in startups in the communications and IT industries. Some companies in Convergence Partners’ portfolio include Amphire, Azaire Networks, Clickability, IdeaBlade, Penguin Computing, and others.

Primera Capital is a vc firm that invests in entrepreneurs who have an innovative product that has good market potential. Primera Capital invests in all stages of a company’s life and invests primarily in the software, internet applications, and mobile and wireless industries. Some companies in Primera Capital’s portfolio include Infolinks, GTNexus, RoamWare, JitterBit, and others.

Chegg.com does have a few competitors. The two major competitors are Alibris and DormTrader.

Alibris is a service that connects people who enjoy books, music, and movies to a myriad of book and media sellers worldwide. Alibris is based in Emeryville, California and was founded in 1998. Like Chegg.com, Alibris also sells textbooks. Alibris is a privately owned company and has nine people on its management team and seven people on its board of directors.

DormTrader is a book selling service which is also a Facebook application and was founded in 2008 and is based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. DormTrader is a privately owned sole proprietorship and has only one employee, who takes care of the landscaping and maintenance of the company’s grounds.

For more information about Chegg.com, click here.

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