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Universities unite on the net

by Archives April 6, 2005

Looking for a convenient, one-stop spot to buy a textbook, book a flight or find a mate? Well, look no further than Campusinbox.com, a website designed by, and for, university students across North America.

The site, scheduled to officially launch in August, is an interactive online hub catering exclusively to students. They can rate and recommend to their peers everything from the hippest gay and lesbian hangouts in town to the best florist on their block.

“We want the maximum input from students,” said Saad Laraki, one of the four founders of the website.

Laraki moved to Montreal in 1998 after studying at Boston University and London School of Business. “Every time I moved to a new place, I was lost,” he said. Laraki teamed up with HEC student Stan Granas, and Concordia’s Peter Kovacs and Basil Hatto, and they created the website in June of 2004. They hope to build a virtual student community that would be especially helpful to international students. “The full concept as it is today comes from everybody’s insight,” Laraki said.

The site aims to improve campus life by allowing students to connect with each other and share experiences. It also provides a place for them to buy or sell different products and services, ranging from hip-hop classes to drum kits.

Campusinbox.com was launched as a test website last February with the help of 100 registered members offering constant feedback. Laraki said the response has been extremely encouraging.

“This is what we needed. It’s about what’s happening in the city…for students,” added Hatto, a fourth-year marketing student at Concordia. “I think [the website] has tools that as a student, I can utilize.”

In September, the founders plan to capitalize on orientation week by setting up information booths at Montreal’s different universities to promote the site. In the meantime, the only marketing strategy they’re relying on is word of mouth.

Revenues are currently non-existent. “No profit yet,” Laraki admitted. The website requires a minimum of 100,000 registered members before advertisers will come knocking at the door. With 500 students currently registered, Laraki and his partners are working hard together with three part-time employees to attract new members. Signing up is free of charge.

“It’s a good idea to give guidance, especially when you don’t know anybody at school,” said Hayzel Hernandez, an international student from Dominican Republic. “You have no clue what’s going on when you arrive in a new city,” she added. Hernandez, 22, believes the website is a blessing for students looking for accommodations.

The site’s classifieds page is expected to draw a lot of attention, as is the dating service. “The friend of my friend is someone I’d probably want to hang out with,” Laraki said, referring to the ‘connect with people’ feature on the site.

The team at Campusinbox.com invites all students to join, and welcomes any feedback, comments or questions. You can email them at customerservice@campusinbox.com.

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