Chapman students will be able to buy and sell items using Ulyngo, an e-commerce site that was created by Alex Jekowsky, a former Chapman student, starting this week. The online marketplace will be accessible online and through the Chapman mobile app.
The site allows students to buy, sell and bid on items, like the pre-existing Chapman “Free & For Sale” Facebook group, which has 5,665 members, but university login credentials will be required in order to access the marketplace.
“It’s a stronger program, a stronger portal than the Free & For Sale page,” said Student Government President Mitchell Rosenberg. “It’s Chapman-branded. It’s something that the university trusts and the university’s not going to do anything that they don’t think is safe for students.”
Vice President and Chief Information Officer Helen Norris met Jekowsky through Chapman’s entrepreneurship program last year, while he was still a student.
“Alex told me he was going to take a year to work with Ulyngo in the Silicon Beach startup community,” Norris said. “When he returned, I felt that the company and the product were ready, so we agreed to integrate it.”
The Free & For Sale group is less secure, Rosenberg said, because you don’t need a valid Chapman email to access it. Because Ulyngo has customer service backing, unlike Free & For Sale, or third-party sites like Venmo, there are ways to get reimbursed if something goes wrong, Rosenberg said.
“There’s no cash involved in this,” Rosenberg said. “With Free & For Sale, I might hand you a $20 bill and if something goes wrong, I’m never getting it back.”
Some students, like sophomore public relations and advertising major Avery Sorenson, no longer use the Free & For Sale page because it’s run like an “honor system.”
“I think the page is really cool and useful, and I used it a lot when I was furnishing my apartment,” she said. “But I bought a table and it looked good, so I paid the guy over Venmo, but an hour later, I realized one of the legs on the table was really wobbly and broken.”
Once it’s open to students, Ulyngo will transfer the money back to the buyer if something goes wrong, and will have a feature that prevents a buyer’s money from transferring to the seller until the item is inspected.
“The money isn’t actually released until the person who’s receiving the product gets to inspect it and make sure it’s good, and they can click a button that says it’s good to go, and the money only then gets released to the seller,” Jekowsky said.
For other schools integrating Ulyngo, like California State University, Northridge and San Francisco State University, a software charge is required, as well as a charge based on the size of the student population. Prices vary from school to school depending on student population size, Jekowsky said.
Since Chapman is Jekowsky’s alma mater, the university received access to the online marketplace for free.
“We like to think it was like our flagship school. (Chapman is) partially where I conceptualized the idea,” he said.
Jekowsky worked on Ulyngo in Chapman’s entrepreneurship program and at the Launch Labs, which is a space on campus designed to help bring startup business ideas to fruition, he said.
Chapman will also have the opportunity to make money from the new software.
“Every time you buy something, there’s a small processing fee associated with the purchase,” Jekowsky said.
“A fraction of that fee comes back to (Ulyngo), and the other fraction will go to the university it’s bought through.”
The processing fee, which Jekowsky declined to disclose to The Panther, is based on the cost of the purchased item. Chapman hasn’t decided where the money it makes from Ulyngo will go, Rosenberg said.
“We would love it to come to student government or student organizations, and that’s what we’re gonna try to push for, but it’s not necessarily settled yet,” he said.