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Student Grounds: from idea to reality

Ever been in desperate need of a last minute biology tutor, to advertise your club to a large audience or an instantaneous way to complete online transactions with other students? There are so many sites and providers of these sorts of college necessities, and Brandon Miskin ’18 had them all in mind when creating his website Student Grounds, your new favorite website when it comes to college resources.

“Trash is cash,” said Jesse Caron ’18, vice president of marketing for Student Grounds. Rather than throw away old items such as textbooks, lamps and rugs, they can be sold to other students looking to buy those same items at discounted prices, explained Caron.

Student Grounds eliminates the tedious external obstacles of textbook transactions, making all purchases student-to-student. Clubs, sports and other organizations can also organize advertisements and descriptive resources on the site, condensing every resourceful aspect of college onto one platform.

Currently, items from a $15 financial calculator and $20 Organizational Behavior textbook to a $35 microwave and a $15 red iPod Nano are all for sale on the site.

Student Grounds not only serves as a medium for students to sell items to other students on campus, but students can find car rides to the grocery store, tutoring for classes and in-dorm cooking services offered by other students. One student is even offering to sublet her room in an apartment on Dartmouth St. for the spring semester.

When a student finds an item they want on the website, that shopper can message the student selling the item or service, explained Miskin. From there, the two students can arrange a time and place to meet up and make the sale.

Not only does Student Grounds help students sell and buy goods and services on campus, but it decreases the amount of waste that occurs when students order goods online or even purchase in store, explained Miskin, as there is no packaging involved.

While Student Grounds has developed into a site that “puts money back into students’ hands,” the site has come a long way from the initial beta test it ran last year and has come even further from the initial idea that originated during Miskin’s first year at Brandeis.

As a first-year, Miskin decided he did not particularly like the format of LATTE. “I wanted to create a social network platform to help students connect with their classes and extracurricular activities,” says Miskin.

With encouragement from Patrick Flahive ’18, his first-year roommate and now the chief sustainability officer of Student Grounds, Miskin pursued his idea.

“I first came up with the website designs, and then my brother coded it all. We spent like a year coding our original website, and these past six months, Ricky created the University Market Place, basically what the website is today,” explained Miskin.

Ricky Miskin, Brandon Miskin’s older brother, has played a key role in the creation of Student Grounds since the beginning. “He is the most important part of the team … and worked the hardest,” said Miskin about his brother. Working in the finance department at State Street, Ricky Miskin taught himself to code and developed the entire Student Grounds website on his own after work.

Following the beta test of Student Grounds, Miskin and the Student Grounds team faced their greatest challenge thus far—narrowing the focus of Student Grounds.

The initial site included much more than the Student Marketplace during the beta test phase, yet following the test, Miskin and his team realized the Marketplace was the only aspect that received a lot of positive feedback from students.

“It was hard letting go of our other ideas, especially since Ricky has spent so much time developing the entire site,” explained Miskin. Yet, he and his team were not discouraged.

Since the beta test, Miskin, along with Caron, Flahive and Josh Berg ’17, chief operating officer of Student Grounds, developed the business into what it is today.

Over the summer, they would go over to each other’s houses and work together for hours on the business, explained Caron. Miskin, Caron, Flahive and Berg, all members of the Brandeis men’s soccer team, had some of their best moments working on Student Grounds over the summer.

Many students have potentially great ideas, attempt to formulate them and then give up after realizing how much time and effort goes into making them successful and fully functioning. Miskin and his partners ran into some glitches along the way, but he says all they did was make him more determined for the website to prosper.

“SG has prepared me for a lot of different things. I’ve learned a lot about marketing through trying to get the word of my website out and intricate things like setting up a functioning corporation. Learning business and the legal side of the website will aid me in many future jobs that pertain to my area of interest, which is business,” explained Miskin.

Miskin advocated coming up with an idea and sticking to it if you truly believe that idea will be worth the dedication—exactly what he has been doing with Student Grounds since his first year.

“First have a great idea that inspires you and will appeal to people; develop and tweak it constantly so you know it is truly the best it can be, and don’t give up when things get shut down or problems arise that seem really hard—pay attention to the passion that comes along with a great idea,” Miskin encouraged.

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