College students no longer have to take comprehensive notes to help them prepare for finals. Not when they can buy them.
Tom Brady figured this out early on, and the Florida State University senior also figured out how to capitalize on this phenomenon.
The entrepreneurship business major helped create moolaguides.com, an eBay of sorts for college students in need of notes and study guides. It started out as a class project two years ago, produced $200,000 in income last year and is expected to gross in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars this year.
Welcome to college in the electronic age, and tip your hat to a young master of the universe. As FSU administrators continue to advance their institution as an entrepreneurial university - with the goal of having an entrepreneur-in-residence attached to each college - Brady, who just earned his diploma, is Exhibit A.
The Jacksonville native came to Tallahassee hoping to major in multinational business, a program that was cut his freshman year. But he deftly found a comparable skill set by double-majoring in entrepreneurship and international affairs.
"I fell in love with entrepreneurship as a lifestyle. The biggest thing that stands out to me with entrepreneurship is it allows you to make the most amount of money possible with the least amount of work," Brady said.
Moolaguides started as a local business, but it quickly expanded beyond FSU. Boston College has become a hotbed, as has New York University, Brady said. There are no limits to where the site can function, servicing transactions between those who have and those who need, and, of course, turning a profit for both note-takers and Brady.
A typical set of notes, or a study guide, sells for $8. It is classic capitalism. And yes, it is legal.
"The better the notes you take, the more money you should make. Our best sellers take very good notes and put a lot of care into it," he said. "You can develop a following."
James Dever, who oversees the entrepreneur program in the business school's Jim Moran Institute, is sure that Brady's business leaves a bad taste in some professors' mouths.
"We've had our issues, but it hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be," he said. "Students have been selling notes to each other for a long time.
"Tom is exceptionally driven. He's just a go-getter. Tom has promoted the thing and improved the website and done an exceptional job with it," Dever added.
It's critical that the business maintain ethical standards, Brady said. The company does not accept any copyrighted material and Brady said he does not support cheating.
"When we're notified of an infringement, we handle it instantly," he said. "We have some teachers who don't like the service, but we have a lot of teachers who support our service. I think the teachers who don't like our service are just jealous of students making money - and that's the truth."
Brady can also brag that moolaguides is an award-winning business. He took top honors at an innovation competition earlier this semester hosted by the College of Business, which came with a $15,000 check for Brady and his company.
The name of the business blends an old-school slang term for money - moola - with a word that captures the product. Brady believes his peers are familiar with "moola" - "even if they can't all spell it."
His plan following graduation is to relocate to Miami, home to one of the best tech start-up scenes in the Southeast, Brady said. His goal? Well, you probably guessed it by now.
"I know it might sound kind of funny," he said, "but I want to be financially well off and stable by the time I'm 30."