Group votes to purchase NDBay
Karen Langley | Tuesday, April 26, 2005
In response to the graduation of the NDBay.com founders, the Council of Representatives voted at Monday’s meeting to purchase the Web site as a student-used book exchange. The 8-7 vote concluded a two-week debate about the best plan for providing the student body with a way to purchase used books online.
The Council’s discussions examined the options of purchasing NDBay from its founders, Chris Kelly and Aaron Wenger, or accepting an offer from the Entrepreneurial Club to start its own book exchange site. Discussions began with comments about the opportunity cost of NDBay.
“It says [in the NDBay paperwork] that there is an opportunity cost of $15,000 for going with the Entrepreneurial Club option,” Student Union Board manager Jimmy Flaherty said.
Kelly explained that this value is the amount of revenue that student government would fail to earn if the Entrepreneurial Club’s site were not running by the fall.
“We tried to be as conservative as possible to show the startup scenario,” he said. “Students will lose $15,000 by not having an online company next year. You can get revenue from us because our site is already up. If you go with a rival, even if it is running by December, you lose opportunity cost, which is historical data on how much students have saved with our site.”
Class of 2008 president Erin Mulholland asked about the numbers used to calculate student savings with NDBay.
According to Wenger, the figures were based on used book prices at the Hammes Notre Dame bookstore.
He also noted that NDBay’s price seemed to be an obstacle to its purchase.
“We would go lower than originally discussed to $4,000,” he said, “but as a compromise we wouldn’t necessarily work with you to incorporate the system. For $5,000, we would include our assistance for the first three months of the purchase.”
Class of 2006 president Emily Chin asked the NDBay representatives if they would seek other buyers if student government decided not to purchase the site.
“We think student government is the best option because we want [NDBay] to go further,” Kelly said.
Class of 2007 president Bill Andrichik brought up differences between NDBay and the Entrepreneurial Club’s proposal regarding the actual book transactions.
“One main selling point of the Entrepreneurial Club last week was that it would set up a situation in which all money was handled online,” he said. “I don’t really see that as much of an advantage. If students already transfer their money online before the book, they will come to us to try to police it.”
Judicial Council president James Leito countered Andrichik’s point.
“I think most of us are pretty good kids,” he said. “I don’t see that being an issue. The beauty behind what the Entrepreneurial Club is doing is that they want to build a site, integrate with Amazon, and have kids pay online. The problem with student business is you might not always get kids with the same dedication – finding kids who want to do that would be hard.
“In favor of the Entrepreneurial Club doing it,” he added, “we should give them an incentive to get it done by fall, so we don’t lose this $15,000 or $30,000.”
Representatives questioned NDBay’s estimated $200 for annual upkeep of the site.
“Thirty hours a semester at $6.75 an hour is $200,” student body vice president Lizzi Shappell said.
“Besides $400 in operating costs, we would need hardware costs,” Flaherty said. “We would be stupid to do this and not market it, which would be another $2,000 for a year. Two hundred dollars is grossly under the forecast.”
Sujal Pandya, chair of the Senate Oversight Committee, suggested that NDBay would be a more legally sound option than the Entrepreneurial Club’s plan.
“From looking at models, NDBay has a higher probability of being legal,” he said. “It is a used book exchange, while the Entrepreneurial Club is taking in money and competing with the [Hammes] Bookstore.”