He’s the real MVP: UCT student makes app that makes varsity books cheaper

06 July 2018 - 07:30 By Nico Gous
Screenshot of Quillo’s website. Developed by a UCT student, the app brings the buyers and sellers of second-hand textbooks together.
Screenshot of Quillo’s website. Developed by a UCT student, the app brings the buyers and sellers of second-hand textbooks together.
Image: quillo.io

Feel like you’re paying too much for textbooks? Want to get rid your old ones more easily? There’s an app for that - thanks to a University of Cape Town student.

UCT's Tamir Shklaz was shocked at the number of textbooks he needed - and how much they cost - when he got to university. He was also frustrated when he looked at a notice board on campus and saw a textbook he needed had been sold.

Shklaz and three classmates spent a month teaching themselves different programming languages and got to work on building the digital platform Quillo to connect the buyers and sellers.

There have been about 2‚000 downloads and 500 textbooks bought and sold since the app was launched at the start of the academic year. However‚ it was removed from the app stores in May ahead of a re-launch of what the Facebook page called a “shiny new and improved Quillo v2.0”.

The app was initially designed as a noticeboard where buyers and sellers could get in touch via email or WhatsApp‚ but the team are now considering expanding to handle payments and deliveries.

Shklaz said: “We want to become more than a textbook marketplace. We think textbooks are a huge problem‚ but there are a plethora of other problems that students deal with‚ whether that be grappling with content‚ social issues‚ or finding out about a course they want to take.”

In March‚ Shklaz presented the idea at UCT’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) e-Commerce Pitch Night‚ where start-ups pitch their ideas to possible investors.

In April‚ the team joined the GSB’s full-time Venture Incubation Programme and on June 26 they were awarded the prize of the team that achieved the most in the programme.

“This means that we have an office space where we’re surrounded by other start-ups. We were enthralled. We were there every day‚ interacting with other start-ups‚” said Shklaz.

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