Jan 242006
Authors: Sara Crocker

When most students think about ways of earning extra money to pay for college, they usually get a job or take out a loan. Melissa Noble and Patrick DeLoughry started their own business instead.

Over the summer while brainstorming how they would pay their way through school in light of continuing tuition increases, Noble, a freshman biomedicine major, and DeLoughry, a freshman open option major at the University of Colorado-Boulder, decided to create an online business where people can buy and sell their stuff.

They created luckypete.com.

"It's set up kind of like an eBay," Noble said.

However, it's a bit different from the popular bidding site. On this site, people still post their items to sell and decide on a purchase price. But instead of having a bidding process, where the seller can get more or less than they ask for, the price is constant. Each potential buyer purchases raffle tickets for $1 each. Once all the tickets for that item are sold, the raffle is drawn and the winner gets the item.

"This is all kind of a game of chance," Noble said .

In this case, people looking to buy the item can purchase as many raffle tickets as they want.

"The buyer can decide what chances they want to take," DeLoughry said.

Luckypete.com took about six months to design and register as a business, DeLoughry said. The site opened for business Dec. 20, with most of the sale items posted by friends.

Thirteen items currently are posted for sale, including karate swords, jazz shoes, a purple screaming monkey and a glass perfume bottle.

DeLoughry , who designed the site, said he likes this business because it was relatively cheap and easy to set up. The pair spent about $100 for their domain name and other tools for setting up the Web site.

But response has been slow, with the site only getting a few hits a day, DeLoughry said . Noble said they have advertised in residence halls and on www.facebook.com, and hope more students become aware of their site.

"It is targeted more for college students because it is very inexpensive," Noble said of their raffle system.

While Noble and DeLoughry hope their business will take off soon, others remain skeptical.

Doug Hoffman, a professor in the marketing department at CSU's College of Business, said all businesses need to provide the customer with a benefit and wondered if there is enough variety in the products being sold to attract people.

Hoffman also questioned what would happen if an item didn't sell enough raffle tickets. Noble said if this happens, the buyers who bought tickets would be reimbursed.

"It sounds like they have a really interesting and unique concept," said Ken Manning, an associate marketing professor at CSU. But he also wonders if it will prove to be a better solution to other e-commerce sites like eBay.

Still, both professors contended that regardless of the business' outcome, it was good experience for both students.

Noble and DeLoughry's ambition may be contagious. In 2005, Fort Collins was named the most innovative, entrepreneurial city in the nation by the Small Business Association.

Jacob Castillo, director of business development for the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation, said the students are in the right city to be starting such a creative business.

"They seem to have an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit," Castillo said.

Noble said the site is still in its beginning stages and has not turned a profit yet, but is not in debt either. Both Noble and DeLoughry remain ambitious. They are planning another Web site that would sell items specifically for life in the residence halls, called extremeyourroom.com.

DeLoughry said the site is still being created and the duo is saving money to buy items they will sell, such as beanbag chairs.


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