The College Cafe is an online marketplace for college students to buy, sell, and trade textbooks, as well as participate in auctions, post ads, evaluate teachers, and purchase college products. With a target market of over 15.8 million students who collectively spend $200 billion per year, The College Cafe launched in July and is currently in its start-up stage.

Online College Bookstore Business Plan Example

The College Cafe enables students to buy, sell, and trade used textbooks directly with each other, bypassing university bookstores. Sellers can earn more money than the bookstore offers, and buyers can pay less. The College Cafe also allows students to sell class notes, old tests, computers, dorm accessories, used CDs, tutoring services, and other items on an online student-to-student marketplace. Additionally, the platform offers services like classifieds, teacher evaluations, weblogs, specialized content, and retail.

To establish itself as the leading online student-to-student marketplace, The College Cafe combines market-specific expertise with Internet technologies. It aims to create a win-win solution for students, achieve market dominance through domain experience, local grassroots marketing, an exceptional management team, superior software, and strategic alliances within the college market.

The U.S. college student market is a growing yet underserved niche, with an expected increase of 15.8 million to 17.2 million students in the next five years. College students are eager to find ways to generate quick cash and often sell their old textbooks, but university bookstores control the resale market, offering students only a fraction of the book’s value while making a 125% profit. The College Cafe aims to provide a convenient and money-saving alternative for purchasing textbooks and receiving more value when reselling them.

Financial projections indicate exceptional revenues by the end of year one, profits by the 9th month of operation, and a 1.5x increase in sales and profits by the end of year three. The College Cafe will require an initial seed investment for marketing, customer acquisition, software, and website development.

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The company’s objectives are to become the leading internet student-to-student marketplace, attract 500,000 registered users in the first year, achieve 50,000 visits per month, and establish sustainable profitability within the first year.

The College Cafe was founded in July and is currently in its start-up stage. It has been test marketed at Georgia State University since August of last year.

The College Cafe’s data center is hosted by Atl-Connect Internet Services in Atlanta, Georgia.

The company’s mission is to provide college students with a valuable and unique source for products, services, and information. Its philosophies include focusing on the product, considering customers as employers, avoiding greed, and keeping employees happy.

The College Cafe is a Limited Liability Company solely owned by founder Gerald Owens.

The key to success lies in executing the business model, recruiting a management and marketing team with college market expertise, implementing a grassroots marketing campaign, offering innovative products and services, and forming strategic alliances with suppliers to the college market.

The management team consists of three employees and two technical advisors, combining more than 30 years of experience in e-commerce, marketing, and internet technology. Additional staff will be required for marketing, sales, research, support, and other operational positions. College students will be hired for regional campus marketing, local advertisement sales, administration, customer support, and non-critical operational positions.

Consultants and contractors will be utilized for website enhancements and development.

The College Cafe is seeking individuals for its Board of Directors, including business professionals/experts and members of the investment team. These individuals will assist the management team in decision-making, forming strategic alliances, and becoming an industry leader.

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The start-up costs for The College Cafe include web hosting, software, development, and marketing expenses, which were financed by direct owner investment.

Online College Bookstore Business Plan Example

Start-up Requirements

Start-up Expenses

Domain Name Registration – $15

SSL Encryption – $100

GeoTrust True Site Certificate – $100

Auction & Classified Software (Xcent) – $800

Legal Fees – $150

Utilitizes – $100

Merchant Account Fees – $200

Computers (2 @ $2000) – $4,000

Programming & Site Development – $50,000

Site Hosting (1st 3 months) – $120

Miscellaneous Expenses – $1,000

Beta Launch Promotions – $1,000

Search Engine Registration – $100

Total Start-up Expenses – $57,685

Start-up Assets

Cash Required – $2,315

Other Current Assets – $5,000

Long-term Assets – $150,000

Total Assets – $157,315

Total Requirements – $215,000

Product Summary

The College Cafe will offer college students a unique blend of products, services, and content not offered by any other company on the Internet. The College Cafe will create a student-to-student marketplace and retail website targeting 15.8 million college students. The following describes The College Cafe’s revenue models:

3.1 Textbook Exchange

The College Cafe will allow students to buy, sell, and trade used textbooks. Students can post their textbooks online for sale or trade, upload images, and indicate the book’s condition. A fee will be charged for posting textbooks.

3.2 Auctions

The College Cafe will offer a powerful auction package with features such as Standard, Reverse, Multi Item, Dutch, and Blind auctions; Flash Buy and Proxy Bidding. A fee will be charged for posting auction items.

3.3 Classifieds

The College Cafe will offer fee-based, student-targeted classified ads with features such as image upload, web links, and nested categories. A fee will be charged for posting a classified.

3.4 Retail

The College Cafe will sell products targeting college students with margins ranging from 10% to 50% depending on the product.

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3.5 Teacher Evaluations

The College Cafe will enable students to post and review teacher evaluations. Revenue will be generated from the sale of banner ad space within the teacher evaluation pages.

3.6 Bloggers

The College Cafe will offer Weblogs (Bloggers) services with topics tailored toward students. Revenue will be generated from the sale of banner ad space within the Weblog pages.

3.7 Future Products

The College Cafe will regularly examine new services, products, categories, and content to support demand.

Market Analysis Summary

The U.S. college student market is a growing yet under-served niche market. The U.S. Department of Education expects the college student market to grow from 15.8 million students in 2003 to 17.2 million in 2008. According to a Harris Interactive study, college students spend an estimated $200 billion per year. College students were estimated to be spending $1.4 billion online in 2003.

John Geraci, Vice President of Youth Research at Harris Interactive, concludes: "The college consumer is easily overlooked. However, it is a consumer group that marketers should recognize as offering substantial opportunity."

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