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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tusk Marketplace provides new platform for students buying, selling

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A group of Tufts students have developed Tusk Marketplace, which describes itself as an online, peer-to-peer marketplace designed specifically for the Tufts community. Tusk was officially launched on Sept. 6, the first day of classes.

Jack Fritzinger(LA ’16), CEO and co-founder of Tusk, said that he was inspired to make the site at the end of his junior year.

“I was sticking around for senior week and I saw all my friends leaving their items out on the side of the road or scrambling last-minute to sell them to other friends,” he said. “There were other options out there but they weren’t great. Facebook groups and Craigslist had their various problems, so I kind of saw the need for something different that would fill that gap.”

Fritzinger said he spent the summer after junior year looking for people to help build the website because he did not have coding experience. At the start of his senior year, he met co-founder Dan Callahan, who had been thinking about a similar project.

“I was getting annoyed with Facebook,” Callahan, a senior, said. “There’s a million different Facebook groups. I get notifications whenever people post something, but it’s not necessarily what I’m looking for.”

Together with co-founders Brian Cefali (LA ’16) and seniorJackson Clawson and Michael Seltzer, the group registered for the innovation brainstorming event Tufts Scramble in September 2015, where they started work on Tusk, according to CallahanSeltzer and Callahan described Tufts Scramble, hosted by the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, as being similar to a hackathon but with more of a business focus.

According to Callahan, Seltzer and Cefali were computer science majors and heavily involved in software development, while he and Clawson were engineering psychology majors more focused on user design. Fritzinger worked on setting up the company and handled most of the business and marketing side of the operation.

“We really balance each other well,” Callahan said.

Callahan also highlighted the support they have received from the Tufts Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies program.

“They’re always available for us to bounce ideas off of [or] to troubleshoot with, and it’s connected us with a couple other businesses on site," Callahan said.

Fritzinger noted that some members wanted to release a minimum viable product with only the basic functionality in place, while others wanted to add features and designs in order to release a better product. The group struggled to decide when to release Tusk until they agreed to launch it at the start of this academic year, he said.

As of Monday, Sept. 12., Tusk already has over 250 registered users and 50 published listings, according to Seltzer. He added that people have been actively contacting sellers and buyers through the website, as well as providing specific feedback to the developers that they can use to quickly improve the site.

“Our main focus is just really being a responsive company,” Seltzer said.

Seltzer said that Tusk can make it easier for buyers and sellers to connect.

“It’s really difficult for someone to find someone who’s really interested in buying something [or] subletting,” Seltzer said. “I don’t think that’s because they don’t exist. I think it’s just because people aren’t connected in any good way, so we’re trying to improve that."

Fritzinger hopes that people will start using the site in the place of other platforms.

“I’d like to see all the traffic that is currently going to Facebook and Craigslist – I’d like to see those people switch and use Tusk,” Fritzinger said.

Callahan acknowledged that some of the site's initial popularity may be due to post-launch buzz.

“Now we’re enjoying the launch boom, but next week people might not care as much,” he said. “So we’re constantly updating and improving, so hopefully as people check back next week, they see some slight changes … we hope that it keeps people coming back to the site.”

Fritzinger said that, as a for-profit company, Tusk plans to implement features that will eventually be worth paying for. While buying and selling items would remain free, he explained that job listings, advanced sort and filter options for sublets and advice on negotiating with landlords and figuring out maintenance expenses would create a service that he believes students would pay a small fee for.

Callahan added that Tusk is in the early stages of discussing collaborations with various on-campus organizations, including the Office of Residential Life and Learning.

“We think that we can solve a lot of their problems and they won’t need to deal with it, so if we can help them and the students, it’s a win-win-win situation,” he said.

Seltzer noted that people have already contacted the group to express interest in becoming involved with Tusk. Callahan said that he wants to grow the team and have some younger students on board so Tusk can have a continued presence on campus.