“We are happy to offer a service that allows students to find their books easily, as well as save money.”
In 2017, Maclean’s reported students at the University of Ottawa (U of O) were spending an average of $671 on textbooks each year.
In addition to being a significant financial burden, textbooks become less valuable for students beyond their period of study — over the years, students have taken to Facebook to resell old textbooks in private groups and recoup some of the cost.
With Uoswap, a mobile app serving as a digital marketplace to buy, sell, or trade old textbooks, a group of students at the U of O are streamlining this practice.
“We created Uoswap because during college we realized that buying books every semester was very expensive and not accessible to everyone. By creating UoSwap we wanted to solve this problem,” wrote Traoré Mylène, a fourth-year student in biopharmaceutical science and communications officer of Uoswap.
Mylène said developing and promoting the app was a team effort, citing her colleagues Othniel Tiendrebeogo, fourth-year student in computer science and Uoswap founder, Malick Moutaïrou, a recent graduate in graphic design, and Deborah Lutshumba, third-year biopharmaceutical science student and head of communications, as being integral to the process.
“We decided to divide the tasks. According to the expertise of each, teams were created. We have the software developer team, marketing, and design team. We also had to do surveys to determine the needs of the students and we received a lot of responses. So we used these responses to create the application. The promotion of the application was mainly done on campus and then on social networks.”
Since launching in September 2022, UoSwap has reached 1000 in-app users. Though, Mylène said this wasn’t without challenge.
“The biggest challenge was to make the application adapted to IOS and Android as well as to make the application more intuitive and simple to use. We have received [feedback] from users and we are working on improving the application. We have also received several suggestions for great features that some students would like to have and we are working on those,” she explained.
Another benefit of the app is getting to chat with the seller and potentially creating a bond with someone who has taken the same course.
“Most of the students think it is a great idea. Many of them expressed the need for an application like this,” said Mylène.
Given the positive response from students at the U of O, the Uoswap team hopes to expand the application to serve other schools.
“We aim to reach 5000 users by the end of [Summer 2023]. We would like to make Uoswap available to other universities in Canada in the future.”
Visit Uoswap’s website for more information.