Alumni Find Their Entrepreneurial Niche
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 22:04
Like many recent college grads, Máuhan Zonoozy (MSB ‘09) and Berni Schnider (MSB ‘09) spent the beginnings of their lives after graduation trying to find something to be passionate about. This search led them to found collegecraig.org, a website for university students that seeks to make buying and selling on campus easier and safer. The site, currently operating exclusively for Georgetown students, allows students to post ads for everything from sublets to study groups. Zonoozy and Schnider each dabbled in a few different industries before coming together to create the start-up, with Zonoozy at the helm. Georgetown was his inspiration, but he hopes CollegeCraig will one day be used on campuses across the country. Their goal is to provide current Hoyas with a resource that the pair wished they had during their time as undergraduates.
How did you come up with the idea for CollegeCraig?
Zonoozy: CollegeCraig is the solution to a problem my friends and I faced as undergrads at Georgetown: There was no convenient and inexpensive way to find student-centric goods and services. The options available were full of spam, were inconvenient or were just a tad bit too sketchy. Universities already have built online ID systems to restrict their internal sites. So, I eventually decided to create a web application that would apply that [system of restrictions] to student goods and services.
Schnider: Identifying a problem and creating a solution seemed to be the backbone. As students, we lacked a reliable resource for dealing with our peers and hyper-local community. We set out to build that, and you’ll see our experiences reflected in the features on CollegeCraig and in our obsession with maintaining a high level of integrity in our listings.
What role did Georgetown play in your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Schnider: Georgetown gave us both a strong education, which made us feel confident that we could take on this challenge. There are times when we were writing our business plan or preparing marketing events, and we would realize that this is exactly like projects and case studies that we had in our classes.
Zonoozy: Having an undergraduate business background also taught us how to shake hands, ask for business cards and sell ourselves. That sounds a bit funny, but those intangibles are invaluable in real life. It’s weird because sometimes "entrepreneur" comes off as a dirty word amongst the ivory towers … But fortunately Georgetown provided an incredible support system of mentors, professors, faculty and friends that encouraged us to go after what excites us professionally.
Why do you think this resource will be effective at Georgetown?
Zonoozy: The university and broader Georgetown community is very tightly knit here. Georgetown students are already progressive and community-oriented, so this seems like a natural progression. We did build CollegeCraig with Georgetown specifically in mind.
Schnider: Washington as a whole also presents a lot of opportunities for all of our university students as well. Working here, I have seen an incredible demand for part-time jobs and internships. Students will be surprised to see all the companies that would love to have them.
What has the process of creating your own company been like?
Zonoozy: [It’s been] by far the most exciting and interesting learning experience [and], at the same time, easily the most time-consuming and demanding role I’ve been in as well. You don’t get to sleep too much, but it’s worth it.
Schnider: It’s been an awesome adventure so far — definitely one of the richest learning experiences of our lives. I can honestly say that we’ve never tried so many new things in such a short period of time, like staying up until 4 a.m. stuffing gift bags for promotional giveaways on campus.
In an ideal world, where do you see CollegeCraig going?