I just learned about a great new firm called Unigo.com. It is an online college guidebook site full of information and reviews provided by current students. Brilliant right?
The idea of letting students write, or at least contribute to, college guides is not brand new; in fact, the one significant modernization in the guidebook business in the last decade or so is the vogue for books that feature students’ contributions alongside those of objective “experts.” It is a vogue for which Goldman, despite his tender years, can already claim a fair amount of credit. He is the co-editor of “The Students’ Guide to Colleges,” a project he began freshman year in his dorm room at Wesleyan using nothing more than his own ingratiating manner and boundless energy to hire unpaid interns on 100 college campuses nationwide. They helped him to attract their fellow students’ attention to the long-form, essay-based survey Goldman then posted online, offering only the promise that the three best responses to these surveys would be chosen to represent the authors’ schools in print. By the time he graduated, the Penguin edition of “The Students’ Guide” was selling solidly, but the book’s success, as well as its limitations, got Goldman thinking about what might be wrought on a grander scale.
Goldman, like Fedex founder Fred Smith and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, discovered his opportunity while on campus, but took some time to put it all together and build a firm.
Moreover Goldman’s case is an example of how viable the campus as a market is and also that there is a lot of talent on campuses that can be deployed in a very cost effective manner to uncover an opp and build a firm (from low wage labor to well connected alumni).
Its obvious that this firm/idea can scale across higher ed (grad school, community colleges, prep courses, loan programs, 529 savings plans) and I’m excited to watch it grow.