- Corey Cleek Co-founder and CEO at Uloop
- He is also a mentor with Jumpstart Foundry
- Uloop is features online classifieds for students
- Launched in 2007 UC Santa Barbara
- Now serves over 1,500 different universities and colleges
- Began by focusing on housing and jobs, buying and selling text books
- Free to .edu emails
- Corey spent 5 hears at eBay before Uloop
- His roommate at eBay, Ryan MacCarthy, helped inspire him to become an entrepreneur
- Corey was mentored by John Brandon, an executive with Apple
- He belongs to a small group led by Michael Hyatt in Nashville, they inspire each other
- Corey recommends you check out Michael Hyatt’s new blog and podcast
- Nashville Capital Network and Jumpstart Foundry have helped to inspire and lead Nashville’s technology business
- Corey recommends you choose an area of passion and become a subject matter expert
- Contact him on Twitter @coreycleek and Pinterest/coreycleek
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Jumpstart theme song “DLDN Instrumental (ft. Onlymeith, Mellotroniac)” by: St. Paul from ccMixter.
Dave: Welcome to Jumpstart! I’m your host, Dave Delaney. My guest today is Corey Cleek, co-founder and CEO of ULoop. Hi Corey, how are you?
Corey: Good, good, Dave! Thank you!
Dave: Thanks for joining me today. Let’s start by telling us a little bit about ULoop.
Corey: Yeah, absolutely! So ULoop is an online classifieds platform for college students that can be found at ULoop.com and we also carry the classifieds for 200 college newspapers.
Dave: And you’ve been around since 2007?
Corey: Yes, that’s right. We launched initially at UC Santa Barbara as our very first school and then we expanded from there up and down the West Coast and into additional schools across the country. We now serve over 1,500 different colleges and universities on ULoop.com and then 200 college newspapers.
Dave: That’s great! Has the company changed a lot or at all since inception?
Corey: Yeah, absolutely! We started off with ULoop focusing on housing and jobs, so a place for students to connect or find roommates and sublets and housing and also jobs and internships, as well as buying and selling textbooks. And we’ve expanded to other categories: tickets and furniture and car pools and student loans and scholarships, so we’ve added additional categories for students over time as we heard feedback and input from them.
Dave: Yeah, I was going to ask. So these changes typically came from the feedback that you got from the users specifically?
Dave: And I was going to ask you about the access to the site. Does it run just strictly on edu emails? I know that’s sort of how Facebook got started, just edu’s only.
Corey: Right. Uloop is free for students. Anyone with a .edu email address can register and access the site, post to the site for free. And then we also charge for employers to post job listings and housing providers to post housing listings to connect with those students.
Dave: Okay. Now, for you, how did you get started in this? How did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?
Corey: Yeah, I spent 5 years at eBay before we started ULoop. And definitely, being at eBay and experiencing the growth and seeing opportunities to serve people with products and services like what we were doing in eBay is part of what prompted the bug, this product, within me. And then also, having a roommate during my time at eBay, Ryan, who’s one of my partners at ULoop, was involved in various entrepreneurial ventures and so seeing him and the enthusiasm around the products that the was building definitely played into it as well.
Dave: That’s kind of funny that you have a service that connect students with roommates and yeah, you’re kind of roommate/officemate at eBay helped inspire this.
Corey: Right, absolutely!
Dave: That’s neat! Did you ever have a mentor growing up or somebody that actually got you really inspired to go at it on your own, someone that helped you with this?
Corey: Yeah, absolutely! During my time at the Bay Area, there was a gentleman named John Brandon and he’s an executive at Apple that I’m with regularly. And presently, I’m a part of a mentoring group here at Nashville with Michael Hyatt, there’s a group of 8 of us that meet with each other like once a month and that’s been a group that’s been awesome to be a part of as well. But personally and professionally, to keep a healthy balance between work and family commitments, as well as to develop business skills and insights from others that are going through similar things.
Dave: Michael Hyatt, actually, is quite an inspiring person as well. He has a brand-new blog that he just launched and a brand-new podcast as well. I just listened to his first episode about blogging for business. And I’ll leave show notes links to Michael’s website and his podcast in the show notes as well for this show, so just for our listeners who want to check that out. Speaking of Nashville, things have changed here a lot for the last 5 or 6 years. You’re a Nashville native, how have you seen the changes and the technology and business space here?
Corey: Yeah, definitely with the advent of organizations like the Nashville Capital Network and Jumpstart Foundry, it’s been exciting to see kind of the network that’s been developed around Nashville to help connect entrepreneurs and mentors with entrepreneurs. It’s definitely one of the biggest things that I’ve seen from the time that I was here in between undergrad and grad school and then the time that I came back about 5 years ago, so it’s very encouraging to see that.
Dave: With working with Jumpstart Foundry, just seeing the applications coming in already for this program this year, there’s been a lot. So there’s a clear sign that people are really interested and starting their own businesses and yeah, things at Jumpstart Foundry are really jumpstarting for sure. Do you have some tips for folks who may be just starting out or people that are experienced and looking for new ideas?
Corey: Yeah, absolutely! I mean, I’d say choose an area of passion to become a subject matter expert in that area and build something out of that context. Being an entrepreneur’s hard enough work already and it definitely helps when you work in an area that you’re excited about and passionate about.
Dave: And are there blogs or books that you—well, not books that you subscribe to, but blogs that you subscribe to or books that you’ve read that you would recommend?
Corey: Yeah, you mentioned Michael Hyatt’s blog, that’s one in particular that I would recommend and he’s one of the most active and prolific bloggers out there and the content that he writes about is so helpful and yet again, the balance of leadership and social media trends, as well as being a family man, just how to balance those commitments that we have to our families with our commitments to our businesses is sometimes I found very worthwhile through keeping up what Michael blogs about.
Dave: I agree completely with you. Well, that’s all the time we have today, but I want to thank you sincerely for taking the time to be a guest on the show. Where can people find you?
Corey: Yeah, so a couple of areas. On Twitter.com/CoreyCleek and then also Pineterest.com/CoreyCleek. And yeah, I’m an internet marketing professor at Vanderbilt as an [inaudible – 7:14] and Pinterest is a place that I’ve been going to place different resources and tools that I find online on an internet marketing board on Pinterest, so that’s another area you can find me.
Dave: Great! And it’s definitely a website that everybody should be keeping an eye on as well. Thank you so much! Have a great day!
Corey: Thanks Dave! I appreciate it!
Dave: Thank you! And you too! Bye!
For show notes, links discussed in today’s podcast and much more, visit JumpstartPodcast.com. Thanks for listening!
Posted on March 28, 2012