G-Burg student founds textbook sharing website
By Anika Jensen, Staff Writer
ScholarOasis is a website created by Gettysburg College student Wei Xiong ‘15 that allows students to buy and sell textbooks within their campus communities.
Founded in 2014, the middleman-free website requires no commission from sellers to help students save money and even rewards those who sell their books for less than market price.
Because of the local nature of the trading process, students meet in person to buy and sell, eliminating the insecurity of purchasing online and high bookstore prices.
Wei Xiong, a senior computer science major with a minor in economics, began working on ScholarOasis during the spring of his junior year, when he was granted a $10,000 award from the Entrepreneurial Fellowship after proposing and presenting a business plan.
“I thought I would give it a shot because I like to grab every opportunity,” Xiong said.
Xiong claimed that ScholarOasis was not a unique idea.
“I think all the students may have thought of the same thing. Textbooks are just so expensive here,” he mentioned. “And it is almost impossible to trade books for a class because you do not know who has taken it.”
ScholarOasis therefore takes shared information from students and allows them to communicate, cutting off the middleman and returning all profits to the students.
In creating ScholarOasis, Xiong started out on the wrong path. Using the content management system (CMS) to build his website, he realized he was being restrained and decided to use an approach called Web Development Freedoms.
“After the first few weeks trying to figure everything out I realized it was all limited,” Xiong said. “What I needed were new functions to form my own business logic.” The entrepreneurial project even helped Xiong with his computer science capstone.
The Center for Career Development provided support for Xiong, as did numerous alumni in the entrepreneurial field. “People were supporting and counting on me. I wanted to succeed more than anyone else,” he stated.
Xiong also gained important experience from an internship with a company that does web applications. “I used different technology but did some of the same things,” he said.
While Xiong has had success so far with about 300 students registered, he believes ScholarOasis can go further. “That’s potential, what is going to happen when we have 500 members? 1,000 members?”
He hopes the purpose of his company will expand past trading books and expects this semester to be better than the last. His focus for the future lies in underclassmen, who may be more open to trying new methods of buying textbooks.
“Most users are [first-years], and I think that is great because they will be here for a long time.”