A second-hand textbook transaction application (app) written by a University of Cape Town (UCT) student was used from the start of the current academic year, and is being developed further to manage transactions after it won the UCT incubation competition.
The app, Quillo, was developed by UCT student Tamir Shklaz and three classmates. It was originally a simple notice board that connected buyers and sellers over email or over-the-top messaging app WhatsApp.
It was live on the first day of the current academic year and was downloaded 2 000 times and facilitated the sale of 500 textbooks within the first two weeks.
In March, Shklaz’s three co-founders pulled out of the project and Tristan Brandt joined Quillo as the technical lead.
Shklaz applied to present at UCT’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) e-Commerce Pitch Night where South Africa’s top e-commerce start-ups pitch their ideas to a group of investors and judges. Quillo won the event.
The Quillo team, in April, joined the GSB’s full-time Venture Incubation Programme. The culmination of the incubation programme was demonstration night on June 26, when Quillo came away with the prize for the company that achieved the most in the programme.
Quillo is also partnering with the South African Education and Environment Project, a nonprofit organisation that deals with student development from early childhood development to tertiary level.
Many of these organisations cannot verify that the money they are giving students is going towards textbooks and that it is happening safely, so they are keen to use the Quillo platform, says Shklaz.
“In general, I would love to be able to start creating an environment where people are donating textbooks, and we are able to supply textbooks to students who cannot afford them.
“We want to become more than a textbook marketplace. We think textbooks are a huge problem, but there are a plethora of other problems that students deal with, whether that be grappling with content, social issues or finding out about a course they want to take.”
The long-term aim of Quillo is to make information more accessible for students and become a holistic platform that provides value and support for university students in South Africa, and globally, concludes Shklaz.