Buy, Sell, Rent: Chegg Helps Students Save Money on Textbooks

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As the cost of tuition and other college expenses continues to rise, many students have struggled to make ends meet or been forced to borrow more money in the form of student loans to pay for course fees, textbooks, and other supplies.

Taking It Up a Notch

As a graduate student at Iowa State University, Aayush Phumbhra became an avid used of, a website created by three of his fellow classmates that allowed students at the university to buy and sell textbooks and Iowa State merchandise. Realizing the company’s potential to turn the textbook market on its ear, Phumbhra teamed up with the founders of Cheggpost and helped take the concept national under the name Chegg in December 2007.

Chegg offers more than four million books in various formats and students on about 7,000 U.S.-based campuses shop for books at Students have the option of buying a book new or used, purchasing it in eTextbook format, or they can rent it for a semester. Chegg also buys back purchased copies as long as they are in “very good or better” condition.

Based in Santa Clara, California, Chegg employs over 350 people and has raised more than $220 million in venture capital from several companies including Silicon Valley investment giant Kleiner Perkens Caulfield & Byers. In 2010, the company earned an estimated $130 million, up from just $10 million in 2008.

Future Looks Bright

Despite the company’s early success, Phumbhra remained focused on the future. In 2011, the company expanded beyond textbooks and the college market by acquiring CourseRank, a forum to share information about professors and courses; Cramster, a social site for help with homework; Notehall, a site that enables students to share class notes; Zinch, a site that links college recruiters and high school students; and Student of Fortune, a site where students can ask questions or post tutorials on various topics.

Although Chegg reaches just 30% of the U.S. college market, Phumbhra is confident Chegg will become the company students think of first when they need educational assistance. It’s certainly on the right track.