Online textbook site founder aggressively 'taking on Goliath'
JEN LEBRON KUHNEY, The Daily Transcript
The saying goes that one man's trash is another's treasure. It held true for Bobby Brannigan when he tried to sell his books back to the campus bookstore on the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia campus in the early 2000s.
The bookstore wouldn't buy back textbooks that were not being used by a Fredonia professor the next semester, leaving students like Brannigan with unwanted books.
"I was a college student tired of paying the high prices at the campus bookstore for my textbooks only to find out four months later that I couldn't sell them back because the school no longer felt that they were of value," said Brannigan on his blog. "I believed otherwise and started the company."
Brannigan, who did not return multiple phone calls for this story, and a dozen of his college peers started Valore Books, an online site for students to buy and sell thousands of college books each year.
The company was located in Buffalo, N.Y. for the first six years of existence. Brannigan said it was difficult to find experienced programmers and executives there, but what sent the company West was a tax law that required out-of-state retailers to pay state taxes on all transactions if they had a physical presence in New York.
In July 2008, Brannigan, a team of five employees and the company's online division moved to San Diego.
Since then, he has grown the company through taking aggressive approaches to "taking on Goliath."
Google searches for "textbooks" brings up a variety of sites including Amazon, Half.com, Textbooks.com and Campus Books. Valore Books is eighth in the search.
So what does Brannigan do to set his company apart?
He said he keeps his offerings unique with contests for free books and hiring agents to promote the company on college campuses.
These days, Brannigan is working hard with his company, but also blogging for Fast Company, a website and magazine that focuses on finding creative businessmen and women and has them share their experiences.