Give us a brief description of what your business is?
My business is EasyBook911. I buy used books from students at the end of the semester and at the beginning of the semester I sell the books to other students. Let’s say you take Math 101 or English 101, another student will need those books next year so students sell their book to me, and I sell to a student who needs it. I make money and the student’s save money.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have lived in Newark since 2002 when I came from the Dominican Republic. I went to Barringer High School and Graduated from Essex County College with as Associate in Liberal Arts. I went to Jersey City University and studied marketing and a minor in political science. I started EasyBook911 as a hobby, but now that I graduated I said “let me do this full time and give it my all.”
What motivated you to do what you do?
I was here Essex County College taking full time classes and one semester I lent my books to some friends. I lent it to four individuals – three of them I asked for money in return and one I lent to without asking for money. The one friend who didn’t pay for the book never gave me the book back! I was pissed because the book cost a lot of money. However, the other three that payed me, they all returned the books. I realized there could be a way to start a business with this concept. I realized if I can make money with these three books – what if I get more books? That’s when I started the business.
I believe I can help people through business. When I save a student $50, $30 or $40 or $100 it makes me happy. Many students graduate from Essex County College and they call me from Montclair, Rutgers, or NJIT asking “do you have this book?” As a business person, I think I am delivering something of value with the right service because these customers come back. There was one woman who was here and now her daughter goes to school here and she also buy books from me. That really makes me happy.
When did you meet GNEC?
I met GNEC around 2010. A friend invited me to GNEC Awards & Opportunities Breakfast and that’s when I first encountered GNEC and decided to get to know what GNEC offers. Then I took an entrepreneurial training class with them called Urban Entrepreneurs Development Institute and realized the true potential of the idea.
What’s the good thing about GNEC?
The class I took with GNEC gave me motivation and a better understanding of the direction to take the business. The instructor was Dante Rivera and he spoke about how we need to take the business very seriously and to first figure out the target market for our product. Because, he explained, no service or product is for everyone. That was one thing I learned from the class. Furthermore, anytime that I need some help developing or improving an idea for my business, I call Mr. Alvarez, Abdulai, or Kevin at GNEC because I know I can count on them to help drive my business forward.
What were you doing before you started your business?
Before I started my business I was a librarian at Essex County College. We used to have book sales. One day I was going crazy because we were not selling, so I started screaming “Dollar Books! Dollar Books! Dollar Books!” Students started seeing me around as the ‘Dollar Book guy.’ I also used to work in the cafeteria here at Essex County College. I was always hustling.
Starting out what were some of the challenges you faced?
A huge challenge in the beginning was I didn’t have enough inventory. It was challenging to get the right books quickly and then deliver them on time to students.
It was also challenging to gain the trust of the students at first because I didn’t have a brand. For instance if I tell a student I dont have the book yet but that it will come by Friday, do they trust me enough to wait for the book or do they just go and buy the book elsewhere?
Is business better now compared to back then?
Definitely it is, I can tell you one thing, like I said earlier, I didn’t have student trust at first but now they trust me. And I can keep an inventory. Experience has proved many of the things I learned in my GNEC courses.
Advice for someone starting a business today?
My advice for someone starting a business today is: Don’t steal your own money. Separate your business account from your personal spending account. Pay yourself a salary and not the highest salary either. Remember you work for your business. Respect your business. If you don’t respect your business you will not respect your client and they will not respect your business. If you say to a client you will be there at 1PM, be there at 1PM and not 5 minutes late. That make your clients feel like they can rely on you.
My second piece of advice would be to network and meet your competitors to see what they do and how you can avoid mistakes they be making.
Don’t ever give up because it gets hard sometimes. Fortunately, I’ve found a song for when I feel down that I listen to that lifts me.
Would you recommend GNEC services friends and family?
I would definitely recommend GNEC services to my friends and family. GNEC has helped to grow my business and I am now making more money. I recommend people speak with GNEC because you will find a team there that will help you move to the next level. You can always go back to GNEC for help and they have a lot of resources. Some people go to a class or a workshop but they don’t take advantage of GNEC services after the class. If you need a loan they can give you a loan. If you need technical assistance they can give you technical assistance, for instance they can help you register your business.