UB Entrepreneurship Fellow, Towson student develop marketplace app

Many college students have used Craigslist to buy or sell books, furniture for apartments, and even find roommates to live within those apartments. However, it’s not unusual to have a bad experience doing business with someone on Craigslist. That’s why two seniors from UB and Towson University have teamed up to develop an app to create a marketplace that’s strictly for college students that will soon be going to live on a handful of regional campuses.

Alex Greif is a member of the UB Entrepreneurship Fellows program, in which students have to come up with an innovative business idea and create it prior to graduating. He and his business partner, Scott Knowles at Towson, have teamed up to create the Echo Trades app. Last summer, the idea for the app was pitched to Greif and Knowles during their internship at investment firm Morgan Stanley.

“I was actually approached by a student from the University of Maryland last summer who had a base idea for a buying and selling network for college students,” Greif said of Aidan Thibodeaux. “He came to me with the idea. I liked the idea. It’s something that I’ve heard a few times before. [We] actually started to create this company.”

Greif, the cofounder and CEO of Ark Trades, LLC (the parent company of Echo Trades), said Thibodeaux has had some bad experiences doing business on Craigslist.

“He uses Craigslist a lot, and he’s faced a lot of problems. He’s met a lot of sketchy people. They’ve met in some weird places like parking lots, and he’s had some transactions go bad,” Greif said.

So he liked the idea of coming up with a community of people that were similar to him to trade and buy with.” He said Echo Trades will have some benefits that Craigslist doesn’t, such as additional security and safety.

“One of the added benefits is that you’re meeting people you have similarities with. It’s going to be college students, and in a way, it’s connected to a college or university, because when you log onto the application, you’re using your school email address, which makes it so that it’s easy to track you.” Greif said. “It gives you more of an idea that you’re being watched almost, where you’re more concerned about posting something bad, because it’s kind of easy to know who posted that, why they posted it, and where they posted it from.”

Because the app is limited to college students, it’ll cut down on traveling to make a deal.

“If I want, I can go on the application, I can post a textbook, and I can just walk across the street on my own campus and make the transaction,” Greif said. “Not to mention the fact that since the application is only for college students, it’s a hub of products that college students are going to want. It’s not going to be a long list of products that might confuse the consumer.”

As they continued to work on developing Thibodeaux’s idea, Greif explained that they brought Knowles on board because he wanted to sell the idea to friends at Towson. Greif says the main purpose of the app is to help students buy and sell their used goods. However, that’s not all the app can do.

“We also provide a services feature. If a student is very good at fixing skateboards or fixing laptops, he can post that service to other students,” Greif said. “As an added bonus, we have a roommate connector feature. We know that on college campuses, there are a lot of problems with students finding roommates.”

Greif added that he still doesn’t have a roommate. He says the roommate connector can be used for both dorms and off-campus housing.

Greif is one of five students in the Entrepreneurship Fellows program. He says the professors and students in the program helped develop their ideas into more than what the students originally intended them to be.

“So originally this company started as a base product; but the program has helped me think outside the box and develop it. It’s helped me raise funding for this company, and it’s helped me build my team,” Greif said.

He used nearly all the money he had to start Echo Trades, and was putting the money he earned from his Morgan Stanley internship for his startup. He eventually pitched his idea to a member of the country club where he used to work, and he liked the idea and agreed to invest his money in it after a few meetings. While Greif says he and Knowles aren’t worried about money now, they will need additional funding in the future, and are in negotiations with people who want to not only buy into the company, but also join the staff.

The company’s logo is a silhouette of a bat sending out echolocation waves. Greif says Knowles had a unique perspective on branding, and that’s where the idea for the bat logo came from. The original launch date was supposed to be last October, just in time for Halloween. However, Greif says the app wasn’t ready to go. Beta testing for the app began on Jan. 20 at UB, Towson, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), and the University of Maryland-College Park. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices. Greif says about 25 people have already downloaded the app and are testing it. He wants students who download and use the app to be able to provide as much direct feedback as possible.

“And probably about halfway through the semester, we’re going to be working on a few add-ons and a few fixes,” Greif said.

He expects the summer to be a slow time for the app, so that’s when the staff members will work on fixing problems and adding more features, as well as generating more money so that next fall they can aggressively re-launch and market the app with key features that they want to add.

Local Lacrosse Roundup: Maryland Hosting Cornell in NCAA First Round For Second Straight Year

In its final season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Maryland men’s lacrosse team tied with Duke for the best conference record at 4-1. The Terps went 11-3 overall, and finished the season ranked ninth by Lacrosse Magazine. Maryland lost in the ACC semifinals 6-5 to ninth-ranked Notre Dame in Chester, Pennsylvania on April 25. The Terps received a seventh seed for the NCAA tournament, and will play Cornell in the first round at 5 p.m. on May 10 in College Park.

Maryland was led this season by senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk, who had 28 goals and 16 assists. Senior goalie Niko Amato had a 7.19 goals against average, which was fourth-best in the country. He was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Connor Cannizzaro scored 20 goals and added 6 assists in his rookie season, and was named ACC Freshman of the Year. Head Coach John Tillman was named Coach of the Year. The Terps outscored their opponents 163-97 this season, and went 3-1 against their local opponents: Mount St. Marys (won 16-3 on February 8), Maryland-Baltimore County (won 14-3 on February 15), Johns Hopkins (lost 11-6 on April 12), and Navy (won 12-8 on April 19).

Johns Hopkins went 10-4 on the season, including 4-1 against its in-state opponents (Towson, Maryland, Loyola, UMBC and Navy.) The Blue Jays received an at-large bid to make the NCAA Tournament for a record 42nd time, and will play at eighth-seeded Virginia on May 11. Their first-round matchup will be a rematch of a game they played in Charlottesville on March 22, when the Blue Jays lost to the Cavaliers 11-10 in overtime.

The Loyola Greyhounds lost to Virginia 14-13 in their season opener on February 6. They haven’t lost since, finishing the season at 15-1, including an 8-0 mark in the Patriot League. The Greyhounds beat number 18 and two-time Patriot League champion Lehigh 16-7 in the championship game at the Ridley Athletic Complex on April 27, and finished the season ranked number one in Lacrosse Magazine. Loyola is the third seed in the tournament, and will host the University of Albany (N.Y.) on May 10.

As for the Towson Tigers, they had a mediocre season that ended on a down note. The Tigers went 8-7 (2-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association) during the regular season, and lost to Drexel 11-10 in overtime in the CAA Tournament semifinals on May 1.

The Maryland women had another dominant season. The Lady Terps went 19-1, only losing at North Carolina 17-15 on April 5. Maryland rebounded from that loss by finishing the regular season on a six-game winning streak (including the ACC Tournament at Boston College), beating Virginia and Virginia Tech twice, and then defeating Syracuse 13-7 on April 27 to win its sixth straight conference championship. The Lady Terps are the top overall seed in the Women’s Division I NCAA Tournament, and will have a first-round bye. They’ll play the winner of Canisius and Penn in the second round on May 11 in College Park.

The Johns Hopkins Lady Blue Jays went 15-4 (3-3 in the American Lacrosse Conference) this season. They defeated Penn State 13-10 in the ALC tournament quarterfinals on May 1 before losing to Florida 11-6 the following day. Hopkins will play Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Division I Lacrosse Tournament on May 9 at the University of North Carolina. It’s the first time the Lady Blue Jays have made the NCAA tournament in seven years.

Loyola went 14-5 (8-0 in the Patriot League), winning 12 out of their last 13 games. They received an at-large bid, and will play number 14 Massachusetts at Boston College on May 9. Towson went 11-7 (4-1 in the CAA), but ended their season in dramatic fashion. In the CAA championship game on May 4 in Williamsburg, Virginia, redshirt freshman midfielder Michelle Gildea scored with 35 seconds left in overtime to give the Lady Tigers a 12-11 win over James Madison for their third straight CAA lacrosse championship. Towson will play Stony Brook at Syracuse University on May 9 in the first round of the tournament.

The men’s national lacrosse championships will be at M&T Bank Stadium during Memorial Day weekend. The Division I semifinals will be on Saturday, May 24. The Division III national championship game will be on Sunday, May 25, and the Division I national championship game will be on May 26. The women’s national championship will be at Towson University on Friday, May 23.

UPDATED MAY 11

Upsets abounded in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament this weekend. One local did the upsetting, while another got upset.

In a rematch of their season opener in February, Johns Hopkins upset eighth-seeded Virginia 14-8 in Charlottesville. Attacker Wells Stanwick scored five goals, and Brandon Benn added four of his own to give head coach Dave Pietramala his 158th win at Hopkins, tying Bob Scott’s record for most wins by a men’s head lacrosse coach in program history. Hopkins scored four unanswered goals in the fourth quarter to put the game away, and will play top seed and defending national champion Duke in the quarterfinals on May 18 at the University of Delaware.

Meanwhile, third-seeded Loyola was upset at home by the University of Albany, 13-6 on May 10. Great Danes goalie Blaze Riorden made 13 saves, and the Albany defense gave up their lowest goal total of the season. Justin Ward and Pat Laconi each scored twice, and goalie Jack Runkel made 11 saves for the Greyhounds.

Seventh-seeded Maryland needed a goal by senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk with two seconds left in regulation to give the Terps an 8-7 win, thwarting an upset bid by the Cornell Big Red in College Park. Maryland will play Bryant in a quarterfinal game on May 17 at Hofstra University.

In the women’s tournament, top seed Maryland beat Penn 13-5 in College Park on May 11. Taylor Cummings had a hat trick, and won 10 draws, leading the Lady Terps to a 17-3 advantage on draws. Maryland will host Duke on May 17. Meanwhile, seventh-seeded Boston College defeated Loyola 8-3. Georgetown edged Hopkins 9-8 on an overtime goal by Kelyn Freedman on May 9. It was the Hoyas’ first tournament win since 2006.