On Jan. 16, sophomores Ryan Ward and Justin Tomevi launched their website, halfcollegebooks.com, through their own corporation: Ward and Tomevi.
With the month of February about half over, they have already made a couple thousand dollars.
When they began, their mission was to provide cheaper colleges books to students in the general Philadelphia area, which then grew to Pennsylvania and has now become a nationwide corporation, according to Tomevi.
They have accomplished what they intended to, because it is possible to get new books for cheaper than used books in the bookstore here at Eastern.
Tomevi and Ward have incorporated the idea of justice into their business plan, and so far it has worked.
“You can be profitable and not be greedy,” Tomevi said, which is what halfcollegebooks.com is attempting to do.
A lot of the books they sell do not make a lot of money but that is simply because, “We’re being responsible,” Tomevi said.
In an attempt to take on an $11 million bookstore industry, Ward and Tomevi have begun to see the effect their website is having.
Not only does halfcollegebooks.com sell textbooks, it also sells DVDs, CDs and games that have been priced competitively against other companies.
Ward says that this is a result of making deals with various companies. This puts them in closer competition with Amazon.com and Ebay.com and other such Internet companies.
When questioned about how their company compares to that of larger Internet sites, both Ward and Tomevi made the point that for sites such as Amazon and Ebay, the buyer must rely on an individual to deliver the product. With halfcollegebooks.com, the buyer relies on the distributors directly.
At this point, Ward and Tomevi, L.L.C. are not buying books back, but that is simply because they do not have a warehouse to store excess books. They buy directly from distributors and contractors.
In the future, they hope to be acquired by some larger company, but one that will stick to their original mission, which is cheaper college books for students. If any company does acquire them, it will be for their “distinctiveness” compared to other textbook websites, Ward said.
When asked if they had any advice to give to students who want to start their own business, Ward said, “Do the research.”
Both stressed the importance of knowing exactly what you are going to get into, and to start now while you are still in college because you now have the ability and free time to do so.
Tomevi and Ward emphasized the importance of utilizing Eastern’s campus and all it has to offer, especially the professors and all the advice they can give.
According to Ward, Professor Bob Thomas in the business department has been a “key inspiration” and a “big influence” on both Ward and Tomevi.
At this point, they are in the process of acquiring a share in a company that would enable their company to sponsor concerts.
Upcoming concerts are Herbie Hancock, Ben Folds and hopefully a music festival in the spring of 2008 featuring various artists such as Ben Folds.
The future of Ward and Tomevi Corporation is still unclear.
But, as Ward said, “It’s been a good experience… in spite of all the criticism, we do have a company up and running.”