Interview With Youngstown Ohio Startup:

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There is over $1 trillion dollars of student loan debt these days and with the economy in the situation that it’s currently in, it’s getting harder and harder for students to manage and payback that debt.

A Youngstown Ohio startup called CampusShift doesn’t have a secret recipe to make that debt disappear, but rather offers a set of tools that will help college students attack the student loan problem from a variety of directions. Whether you’re looking to make college costs more manageable by saving money on textbooks and other supplies. Or if you’re looking to make more money in college by starting your own business (startup) CampusShift has tools to go either route.

CampusShift has four distinct areas. It starts with a place to save money and compare costs on textbooks. There’s a social networking element available to students, that’s free of course. Campus area businesses can offer daily deals, discounts and rewards to students. Finally, CampusShift offers resources to those students that want to try their luck at their own startup business and test it within the confines of the school with minimal risk.

We got a chance to talk with Chris Haynes, co-founder of CampusShift, who was consequently the first one since we started this interview series (with well over 500 startups interviewed) who followed our instructions completely. So it’s with great honor we give you our interview with Chris Haynes of CampusShift.

What is is a website dedicated to helping students lower the $1 trillion student loan debt by providing them a suite of tools that offer a student ways to cut college costs, manage student organizations, create cash flows, start a business and network with each other more effectively. These same tools can enable businesses to engage a captive student audience, increase their revenues and also more efficiently manage their business. By leveraging the entire Campus Shift community, the company is able to provide something for all parties in the campus community to disrupt the current education market.

First, the company allows students to compare textbook prices to immediately and easily find the best deals on their books available – resulting in an average savings of 40 – 70% for most textbooks. Second, the company has a suite of communication tools that allow student groups and organizations to connect on a college campus – free of charge. Third, campus businesses can enter into the Campus Shift communities within their college community to promote their deals and events to students resulting in the businesses being able to easily connect with students, and of course, enabling students to save on the things they spend their money on every day. Finally, the company has its CS.inspire platform that gives student entrepreneurs a free set of tools that allow them to start / test a business while in college that could even result in allowing them to have a full-time job upon graduation.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds

Derek Haake – Serial Entrepreneur, BA, MBA, JD, 8 years’ telecom, 12 years’ software, 5 years’ C-level, and assisted in taking 3 companies public. He has also worked with regulatory, privacy law, and other legal issues pertaining to today’s social media landscape.

Chris Haynes – Serial entrepreneur, 2 years’ consumer banking, 4 years’ campus relations, and 7 years’ marketing/B2B sales.

Darren Mills – Serial entrepreneur, 6 years’ of interaction design experience, 6 years’ in campus relations.

Zac Sebo – Serial entrepreneur, BA, 2 years’ B2B sales, 3 years’ campus relations, 3 years’ social media.

Jeff Lorton – BBA, 20 years sales and marketing to higher education, skilled in consultative, relationship building, enterprise sales with sales transactions valued to $1,000,000 in both the domestic and international markets.

Where are you based?

Campus Shift’s office is located in Youngstown, OH and is a physical portfolio company at the Youngstown Business Incubator.

What is the startup culture like where you are based?

The Youngstown Business Incubator helps accelerate emerging businesses working in the B2B software industry by providing an array of invaluable services, facilities, equipment, resource networks, entrepreneurial counseling, and networking opportunities.

What problem does your startup solve?

As of 2012, the rising cost of education has pushed student loans to an all-time high of $1 trillion and has surpassed credit card debt as the number one source of debt in the US. Universities are receiving less financial support from the state than any point in the last decade. Today, both students and universities are under intense pressure to actively seek out new ways to save money and cut costs. Campus Shift was created to help fight the ever increasing costs of higher education by helping students save on their daily expenses, textbooks, and even assist them in starting their own business.

What is one challenge that you’ve overcome in the startup process?

The largest challenge Campus Shift had to overcome was getting the startup community to realize that a group of current college students and recent graduates had what it takes to create a successful business. We were recipients of the $25,000 Ohio Innovation Award and granted lockable office space at the Youngstown Business Incubator along with their $15,000 Inspire Award.

Who are your mentors and role models?

Due to the size of our founding team(now 5 founders) our mentors and role models vary greatly ranging from Mark Zuckerberg, to Guy Kawasaki, and even Carl Sagan.

Whats one thing the world doesn’t know about

The overall goal of our startup is that we hope through our efforts we can make college more affordable. If by creating this student savings ecosystem allows even just one student to pursue higher education; then everything we have done is worth it.

What’s next for your CampusShift?

We are gearing up for an official nationwide launch on campuses across the US. Campus Shift is currently focused primarily in the Ohio region and is looking forward to taking our company to the next step.


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