A non-creepy Craigslist: CampusWall rolls out a safer marketplace for college students

We’ve all encountered those questionable Craigslist ads: one person looking for an “R. Kelly Impersonator,” another selling a portable stripper pole — the list goes on.

Personally, when I see an ad posted by a man who is “Unemployed. Short and bald. Chubby and pale with small features.(hands feet ears) Dominating, picky and judgemental. Sometimes a little awkward around women,” a red flag goes up, and probably for good reason (see similar postings here).

This is why I was pleased to hear about CampusWall, a website that essentially provides the same service as Craigslist, but exclusively for college students and employees and in a much safer way.

Rather than those “meet me in the back alley to retrieve the couch” email exchanges, CampusWall enables students to safely “buy, sell, swap, and share goods and services” within a community of their peers.

CampusWall made its way into the online marketplace world last April, when Seattle mom Tina Snyder became concerned for her daughter’s safety.

Snyder didn’t like the idea of her child meeting a stranger downtown to pick up a bike that had been advertised on Craigslist. She was worried her daughter could be in danger, but also frustrated by the amount of furniture college students abandon on move-out day.

Inspired, Snyder didn’t waste any time. She hired a design team, and got the ball rolling with an operation that now partners with other well known, college-oriented companies like CheggStudent Discover CardMiiR and Prep Sportswear. The site was also selected as TiE Seattle’s startup of the month in December.

UW-Green Bay was CampusWall’s first big launch location. The school’s dean of admissions partnered with the company to conduct a successful roll-out launch at the beginning of the fall term.

The company currently works with 160 schools — spanning 136 cities in 39 states — and is growing. In order to sign up, you must have a .edu email address from one of the listed schools.

Once you’re into the site, you have four categories to choose from: marketplace, housing, jobs, and services.

The site’s user interface design is hip and pretty intuitive, but unfortunately there have been no ads posted by University of Washington students yet. No beer-stained couches for me, I guess.

The site did send GeekWire some examples of what a typical posting looks like, though. The photo below shows textbook ads posted by students on the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay CampusWall page.

CampusWall is a free service to higher education institutions and works with MBA programs to develop models that allow student teams to earn school credit by launching and running the site on their campuses.

Preview of CampusWall mobile app

At many universities, the site integrates with a school portal system using a single sign-on.

CampusWall is currently self-funded and has about 12 employees, including web and mobile developers, marketing personnel, and a team of student advisors and interns.

“Since we are just in the pilot stage of single sign-on integration, we are bearing our cost for the development on our side,” Snyder said. “But there is potential to incorporate as a subscriber service from the school’s perspective.”

Snyder said she would be “pleased” to launch the site at any school that is interested in CampusWall.

The company is currently working on developing a free mobile web app that will work on all mobile devices without a download.The app will simply detect the device, and accomodate for it.

Snyder gave us a sneak preview of what’s in the works, which you can see above.

“Honestly, I am overwhelmed and energized by the response,” Snyder said.” … I saw a need on the college campuses where my own children attend. I had no idea how widespread the interest would be. It seems like such an vital service to provide students — not only from a safety and savings standpoint, but from the sustainability side as well.” 

Previously on GeekWire: App of the Week: ’1 Second Everyday’ helps iPhone users document their lives

Reach Lily Katz at lily@geekwire.com or on Twitter @LilyKatz

  • ev3rgr33n

    Portable stripper poll?
    Is this something you carry around to help find out what the clear high heeled platform set thinks about upcoming ballot measures?

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Yes, exactly. :) Thanks for the laugh, we’ve fixed that typo.

  • JustRants

    There is no mention of how this web site makes trading safer compared to craigslist. The mere fact that the buyers and sellers are both students is not enough to ensure safety. In fact, seattle crime map shows more crime incidents in the U-district.

    • PeoppleAreStewp’ed

      Exactly! Of all the Unsafe transactions on CraigSlist there must be millions and millions of safe transactions that have occurred. Only the Unsafe transactions on CraiGslist make the news. The ‘Availability Heuristic’ leads everyone to extremely over-estimate how dangerous CraigslisT actually is.

    • Susan

      I disagree. I worked at MS when they had an employee-only marketplace. It does foster a sense of community and policing. Not to mention the convenience

    • Leon

      You all missed the point. It’s not just about safety-it’s about keeping the stuff from ending up being tossed when the kids leave.I Of course there are millions of safe transactions on craigslist. The point is more to convenience and a marketplace geared towards a specific demographic. I think it’s a great concept. Continued success!!

  • Jesse

    I think you are all missing the point. As a student, I see this as a great service. Why do we all show up with mini-fridges and hot pots on day one when we could procure from an exiting student? And she is right about the piles useful items left at the end of a semester. I am an environmental major, and I think the sustainability prospect plays up more than safety.

  • http://www.facebook.com/manish.shah.7127 Manish Shah

    Another classifieds site is Get Me The – http://www.getmethe.com

  • John

    CampusWall is an awesome site. Community marketplaces are a great resource. And college students are looking to buy and swap like merchandise. Wish this had been around on my campus!!

  • Marie

    Sounds like this is something I would like for my College Kids. How much better for them to be able to get the item they need from someone down the hall or across
    the campus than to drive all over the city. It is a ‘YES’ for me!

  • Dodge

    Great service!! I wish my campus had a “Wall” when I attended. These readers focusing on just the safety deal don’t get it. Students are going to try to find things they need for as little cash as possible no matter what. Why not look across the dorm or campus first?