Photo: Ryan Ketterman
A noteworthy endeavor at FSU
Florida State University
In 2010, Jacksonville native Thomas Brady was one of 40 sophomores picked for a three-year undergraduate program in entrepreneurship at FSU. He took a two-semester set of courses called the "Sophomore Experience" and had one main assignment: Work in a small team to start a business.
After noticing that many students were buying notes from one another in person, Brady's team used $350 in seed money to build a website called Moolaguides.com.
"Originally, we wanted to pay students for their notes and market and sell them ourselves," he says. "But there was no way to incentivize students to take the best notes, and it was way too much work on our end."
Instead, they turned Moolaguides into an eBay-like online marketplace where students could buy and sell class study material. Sellers upload their notes, set the price and give Moolaguides a 20% cut of any sales. By 2012, the website had facilitated sales of 16,000 study guides, earning more than $100,000 for students at 15 universities.
A year later, Brady bought out his two teammates and entered a business plan competition sponsored by the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at FSU. He won first place and received $15,000 to grow Moolaguides.
The company cleared $230,000 in 2013, "and that was with zero marketing," he says. Last March, Brady sold Moolaguides to a competitor in the note-sharing market, Massachusetts-based Flashnotes.com, for an undisclosed amount.
He says he made enough money to live comfortably for a while and start a new venture with another FSU alum. To get his creative juices flowing, Brady spent two months last year in Europe.
"I don't think I'd be able to work at a regular job. It almost goes against everything I stand for at this point," he says. "Travel is a big part of my life, and the thought of not being able to work somewhere in Europe or Latin America for a month or two doesn't sit well with me."