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New online marketplace launches

By Joey Capparella     9/28/11 7:00pm

A new online service called "OwlList" will provide a Craigslist-like system for classified ads in a centralized network for the Rice community to buy and sell everything from textbooks to housing to furniture to tutoring.

Initiated in the spring by Baker College Senior Violetta Krol and alumus Konrad Stoick (Will Rice '11), OwlList is now up and running at owllist.rice.edu for any member of the Rice community with a netID.

Krol said she and Stoick came up with the idea for the project in an entrepreneurial leadership class last fall.



"We knew about Craigslist, and we had a project where we had to come up with some way of improving campus life," Krol said. "I got an email that day through the college listserv about someone selling something, and I complained about it as spam. This inspired our idea for something like Craigslist just for Rice."

Krol said it was important for this service to be integrated with the Central Authentication System, which is the account the Rice community uses to log in to Owlspace and all other campus networks.

"We thought that connecting it to your account at Rice adds a layer of security, especially compared to Craigslist," Krol said. "Having the system connected to the Rice network solves a lot of the unknowns of Craigslist, like who you're buying it from or the condition of the thing you're buying."

Student Association President Georgia Lagoudas said that the SA got involved with the website last spring when Krol and Stoick approached them with their idea.

"The SA helped mostly with publicity and technology support," Lagoudas said. "The managing of the site now goes to the SA Director of Technology, and OwlList can be found on the SA website."

Jones College sophomore Megan Kirchgessner said she likes the idea for OwlList.

"I've never used Craigslist before, but I'd be more likely to use the Rice version in the future," Kirchgessner said. "It would be a lot less sketchy if I knew who I was buying from."

Baker College senior Liz Young agreed that, while she is unfamiliar with Craigslist, she thinks OwlList is a good idea.

"I've never used Craigslist, so I don't know if I'd use it [OwlList]," said Young. "It sounds like it could be useful, though, especially for the end of the year, when people need to get rid of stuff."

Krol said that the website was active at the beginning of the year when people were moving back on campus.

"The website got a lot of use for textbooks at the beginning of the semester," Krol said. She also noted that many people looking to sublet over the summer found roommates on OwlList.

Brown College senior Gabriel Ochoa was enthusiastic about the idea.

"I use Craigslist all the time, and having it at Rice would make everything a lot more convenient," Ochoa said. "It just really depends on whether people actually start using it."

Krol agreed that the service would be most useful if the Rice community took advantage of it. Since opening in March 2011, the site has recieved 3539 total views, and 206 advertisements are currently posted. Krol hopes that these numbers will continue to go up in the future.

"With any kind of website like Craigslist, Amazon or EBay, the benefits come from people using it as a resource," Krol said. "A lot of its success will depend on how it's advertised in the future. A lot of ideas die off when people graduate, but we hope that the publicity efforts made by the SA will give OwlList longevity."



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