Sending children to college is a momentous occasion. Beyond the excitement that comes from embarking on a new chapter of their lives, parents may feel apprehension about letting their kids out to a scary world. With the online marketplace, parents have a new thing to worry about. Stories of scams and violence that come out of Craigslist deals are ubiquitous. Now, two students in Baltimore have created Echo Trades, a new online marketplace that is only for college students.
Created by Towson University student Scott Knowles and University of Baltimore student Alex Greif, Echo Trades is designed to foster a community among college students who are looking to sell their stuff over the internet. To sign up for the service, users need a college email address. “We hope that by only have college students, we can make students feel like they are all in this together. They can feel safe knowing that they are dealing with other students that go to their school,” founder Alex Grief explained.
Echo Trades has an easy to use app that allows students to post items they are selling or even apartments for rent or roommate searches. It is set up like a virtual student union bulletin board. It is a one stop shop for used texts and furniture, all the things a college student needs.
The lack of transparency on Craigslist has become quite a problem. There are numerous reports of the dangers behind Craigslist transactions. One of the more terrifying cases of late comes out of Georgia. Bud and June Runion went looking for an old Mustang convertible on Craigslist. The car was their dream car. Instead, they found a man imitating a buyer, who then killed the Runions. Police have charged a suspect, Ronnie Towns, with their murder. Towns was charged after turning himself in and giving authorities information leading them to the couple’s submerged vehicle and bodies. When talking to Echo Trades’ founders, they hope that the security measures set up in Echo Trades’ foundation will help students avoid these kinds of dangers. “Safety is our number one concern,” Grief says.
Violence from Craigslist is not their only problem. A research study at New York University and the University of Minnesota have discovered a troubling connection between Craigslist and HIV. When Craigslist sets up a new portal for a city or town, HIV cases can go up almost 16 percent. In fact, 6,000 new HIV cases a year are linked to Craigslist. Since the personals section of Craigslist gains a foothold in the escort service industry in a town, the virus is spread much quicker.
Echo Trades’ founders saw a need for college students to have a safe place to sell their belongings to other students. With all the dangers inherent in a Craigslist transaction, students should at least know that the person they are dealing with is a fellow student. By taking away that degree of uncertainty, Echo Trades allows student to feel safe doing business with others, while also bolstering the community of students at the college.
By Bryan Levy