I had the privilege of speaking with Zach Suchin about the Quad—a website made exclusively for college students and meant to be an enhancement of college life. It is a service meant to make life easier for college students.
YOUNG MONEY: Tell me about The Quad
ZS: The Quad is an over arching collegiate platform. It is a vacuum in the college space. Obviously there are MySpace and Facebook but in terms of utility they are just boredom killers. I love them, but I just don’t think at the end of the day they really help people’s life.
I developed the quad with college students. My partner is in college. I wanted a system where kids would actually get use out of it. So it’s not set up not as a basic ad business model, which is ineffective in the college market, these students grew up with computers, grew up with social networking, so we focus on the content of a page. We wanted to create a service that college students needed and that advertisers could use to reach a core base—in a way that users wouldn’t mind advertisers.
There are four parts to the quad. Metaphorically the quad is the center of college life. We offer a variety of services that are not available elsewhere and we subsidize the cost through sponsors. The four parts are:
The Shop (retail)
We offer a collaborative set of tools. The Quad is coordinated for college kids to be able to do everything in one place.
The reaction has been tremendous. Fraternities and sororities have a need for services: sober driving, due paying, file bank, event ticketing, and philanthropy. They need the ability to take information off the Quad and put it on their own webpage. Sponsors are willing to cover the cost and slip in polls. The consumers appreciate the fact that services are being provided.
We worked with tons of fraternities and sororities in developing the Quad. We wanted to make a one-stop shop for college students.
YM: How did you start it?
ZS: I ran a conference on the school server at Emory, where people could interact. People started to join and close to 90% of undergraduates joined voluntarily. I started offering things like “buy one burrito, get one free” and that started to bring in money. By my senior year I wanted to know what to do with it and I found my partner, Jason. We developed a 100-page Scope document. We took all the money we had made, and put together a product called College Tonight Version 0.000001—in a landscape that is constantly evolving, you have to evolve with it. We started doing press. Then we did $600,000 family/friends round of funding. After that we were presented with the concept of a reverse merger. This enabled us to attract more talent. It was untraditional, but it was a great move for us. Then we did another $1.6 million fund raising round.
YM: What is Lauren Conrad doing with you?
ZS: This was another way to try to get college students interested. We wanted the best person with a mature brand, and Lauren was the best fit. She has one of the most mature brands in a league of trashy misguided young people. She agreed to do an official sponsorship, we decided to let her do what she does best—fashion. Students can nominate themselves or friends and Lauren will pick from the top 25 to model in the show. It’s a natural thing for kids to want to do.
YM: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
ZS: The higher you fly the more you get shot at, and the bigger your idea, the more people will try to put it down. If you have a sound idea that you run through a close group of friends, the sky is the limit. No matter how bad the economy gets this is a country started on small business and young entrepreneurs. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by people and able to pursue our own idea. It’s always a great time for entrepreneurs to get up and do their thing.
If you are a college student check out www.thequad.com.