We all had subjects that came easy to us in college, and now a startup is helping students make money off their study materials and notes.
“When it came to organic chemistry, no matter how much I studied and prepared, I would walk out of the class thinking ‘was that English?’” recalls Mike Matousek, founder of Flashnotes.com. “But for my friend, it came so easy. He would be playing Xbox and I would be killing myself studying. I was asking him a lot of questions and realized there was an opportunity he could monetize his knowledge.”
With this in mind, in 2010 Matousek launched Flashnotes.com, an online note-sharing marketplace where students can buy and sell course materials, including study guides, notes, flashcards and video tutorials. Students can also get live one-on-one video help.
“Sometimes there’s a disconnect with what’s being taught and what students are learning,” says Matousek. “I sold the study guide I made for statistics for $10 and made $1,000. The students feel better putting a transactional value on the help and they don’t feel lazy, there is a relationship here.”
Users set their own price for their content and earn up to 70% on each sale. To alert classmates of the potential help, posters can send an e-mail saying they are offering up their materials. Flashnotes.com has a team that reviews and monitors sellers’ materials, and there’s a crowd-sourced rating system that it says helps eliminate bad content and promote strong users.
College options for students with intellectual disabilities
Is It Too Easy to Get Student Loans?
College students sign up for 'Harry Potter' religion class
10 States With the Most Student Loan Debt
Didn’t Get a College Acceptance Letter? What to Do Now
5 Ways to Make Sure a College Education Pays Off
Need a Study Guide? Want to Sell Your Notes? There's a Site for That
9 Ways Scammers Will Target You on Spring Break
College checklist for parents and students
Cut your college tuition costs in half?
With the average cost of a four-year public university up nearly 3% over the past year to $18,391 for in-state schools and $31,701 out of state, cash-strapped college students might welcome the cash source. Matousek claims the average user makes $31 an hour.
The money is paid in cash on Friday, and according to the website, a student at Florida State University has made almost $12,000.
Students can preview material before they make a purchase. "We want to find the best students and note takers, if there is any discrepancy in what you paid for and what you got, we offer a full refund,” says Matousek. “We don’t want to give any incentive for people to post additional non-quality content to try and make money.”
He declined to report how many students are using the web-based tool, but he says the company hopes to be in every school in the nation over the next 12-18 months.
The most popular subjects students need help with include nursing, business and psychology, according to Matousek. Non-students are able to contribute notes, but the company says the top sellers usually fall into those that are currently enrolled in the course.
The company has raised just under $7 million in venture capital funding since its launch.
Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kathrynvasel