Students Create Studying Startup

The following article originally appeared in The Dartmouth on August 14, 2015.

Drawing from student feedback as well as startup methodology learned in economics professor Andrew Samwick’s social entrepreneurship course, a group of students at the College has founded BookUp, a startup that allows students to connect with academic resources inside and outside the classroom.

The logo design for BookUp was decided upon with input from Dartmouth students and faculty.

BookUp aims to link students with academic resources available on campus as well as match students up as study partners based on class name and other factors.

The four students involved in the project are Elijah Moreno ’15, Brian Kim ’15, Jacob Ammon ’15 and Dan MacDonald ’17.

Moreno said that the idea for BookUp came to him after he took time off from school and had trouble finding people to study with when he returned.

“I guess it was inspired by the disconnect I saw with other students in the classroom,” he said.

After having the idea for a mechanism to connect students with study partners for a while, Moreno said he teamed up with Kim, Ammon and MacDonald to enter The Pitch competition run by the College’s Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab. While the team did not place in the competition, they received a large amount of constructive feedback, he said.

Moreno said that he has been working with academic departments as well the Tutor Clearinghouse to get feedback on their service and complement the services they offer.

“The goal right now is to create a product for Dartmouth that Dartmouth students love and use and that is really helpful for them to connect,” he said.

Drawing from student feedback as well as startup methodology learned in economics professor Andrew Samwick’s PBPL 43: Social Entrepreneurship course, BookUp allows students to connect with academic resources inside and outside the classroom.

MacDonald, who came to the College as a veteran, is involved in the business side of BookUp due to his prior business experience. He experienced some initial difficulty transitioning to the College, so the idea of bringing students together resonated with him, MacDonald said.

Both Moreno and MacDonald are both currently in Samwick’s social entrepreneurship class together and have used the Lean startup methodology to build their project as the customer uses it based on customer feedback.

“The product really kind of builds itself in that the students will be participating,” MacDonald said.

He added that once the site is more developed, the team is looking to expand to other campuses around the country, particularly to community colleges due to their low student retention rate.

MacDonald also pointed out the large amount of scientific research proving that studying in groups is more effective than studying alone.

Tutor Clearinghouse intern Jennifer Decker said that she found the idea for BookUp “super creative” as it streamlines finding a study spot, study partner and requesting a tutor into one website.

Decker said that, from the Tutor Clearinghouse perspective, BookUp aims to give “holistic support” to students — it creates a platform where students can reach out to other students in a variety of different ways to aid their learning process.

Kim, BookUp’s main developer, said that BookUp will be having a soft launch this weekend to test basic matchmaking functionality and student response. He also said that the BookUp, because it is created “by students for students,” may have a unique potential to help students struggling through a difficult course load compared to a resource run by the College.

Kim added the fast pace of a 10-week term can make scheduling weekly office hours trying to join a study group midway through the term challenging.

He said that he hopes that BookUp can be useful for professors and administrators in addition to students in regards to identifying topic areas professors may want to focus more on.

Written by Sara McGahan '17. Priya Ramaiah '17 also contributed reporting to this story.