Losing yourself in that anonymous abyss called Craigslist isn’t hard. Hover over the For Sale/Wanted section, and you suddenly feel the need to own a new queen size mattress, because you can’t beat the prices, or some vintage Rolling Stone magazines and a restaurant pizza oven. Sure, you don’t know “Bob,” but he has an oil burner to sell. Just don’t think about texting or emailing him with your inquiries.
Alright, so maybe the site, spewing a generic Times New Roman, isn’t ideal — particularly for college students. Twenty-somethings reading this are likely grumbling, What do I need an oil burner for? Unless you’re schlepping to suburbia every day, you don’t. But Boston University-based Explorite can help you find something you will.
Explorite is a social marketplace where students can buy, sell and exchange goods and services, as well as scope out housing, find roommates, browse jobs and uncover internships.
Although founded as a Boston University marketplace, the site has since expanded its reach to Northeastern, Salem State and Wentworth. The idea is to be “Craigslist, but much safer,” according to Explorite’s Marketing Director Suad Mammadkhanli, because users are required to register with a .edu email address.
Students from one of the four active schools can peruse items being sold on their campuses, which are broken down by type, category, condition and description. If they spot a camera or mountain bike they like, they can contact the seller and set up a time and place to meet on campus.
“We don’t deal with any financial transactions,” Mammadkhanli said, adding the team refers users to PayPal. “We’re really just about connecting people on campus.”
Because, at the end of the business day, Explorite is much more than a marketplace — it’s a connector. When passing off barely-used textbooks or conversing over Spanish lessons, the goal is to meet someone new, and in a safe environment.
Sellers can set their own price for all their “unwanted stuff.” If, when they meet up with the buyer, their item isn’t up to snuff, the buyer can say, “No.” For now, that’s the only procedure in place. “We expect when people post, they are being truthful,” Mammadkhanli said.
What people post, however, often depends on the season. In September, the team will see more textbooks and housing inquiries surface. This week, it’s clothing and costumes because of Halloween.
“Somebody tried to sell a cat once,” Mammadkhanli added, laughing. “But we do have our censorship. Anything that is inappropriate, we do delete right away.”
Moving forward, the goal is to have student ambassadors at every single school, representing Explorite on their campus and dealing with any issues that arise. Although the goal is to keep on expanding to other colleges and universities, Mammadkhanli said they want to focus first on growing their user base at their initial four partners.
“I think we’re pretty proud of where we are right now,” Mammadkhanli said.
Where they are right now is helping select college students avoid Craigslist — hundreds of whom are likely proud, too.