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Posted at: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM (IST)

First read for a second treat

Hemant Singh Rana in Chandigarh
Youngsters launch app for needy students
First read for a second treat
Tarun Gupta (L) and Rajat Dhiman. Manoj Mahajan
Harpreet Singh, a Class IX student in Chandigarh, cycled from one bookstore to another to find secondhand textbooks of all subjects, but with little success. Most bookstores had run out of stock. Just when he was about to buy new books — a costly proposition for his father — his friend told him about an android app where he could easily find secondhand books much cheaper. Harpreet downloaded the app on his father’s mobile and placed the order. In a couple days, a salesman delivered the books he needed. 

Like Harpreet, hundreds of schoolchildren from Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula have benefitted from the app, Vevsa, a brainchild of two young entrepreneurs, Rajat Dhiman and Tarun Gupta, who set up Vevsa.com in 2015. Launched in May this year, the app has over 2,000 users, mostly school and college going, without any marketing or advertising. The two claim to have provided over 30,000 secondhand books through offline and online medium to the needy at the best minimum market price in the past two-and-and-a-half years. 

Last October, their initiative was acknowledged by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who tweeted, “Heard from 22yr old Rajat Dhiman from Chandigarh who founded Vevsa.com 2make education affordable through exchange of 2ndhand books”. The Chandigarh administration, too, appreciated the effort and allowed the two to promote the app in government schools. “The app offers almost all secondhand books of all streams at very reasonable rates. Our students have found it quite beneficial,” says Ravinder Kaur, principal, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 19, Chandigarh, in her appreciation letter. 

“While pursuing Btech from Chandigarh University, I realized many students came to Chandigarh from outskirts to get secondhand books and returned empty-handed despite there being so many bookstores. I and Rajat saw an opportunity to create a system for sale and purchase secondhand books online,” says Tarun, 22.

Six months before launching the startup in 2015, they did an extensive research of hundreds of book vendors in the Tricity and took feedback of students to come up with an efficient system. 

“We joined hands with just 15 trustworthy vendors who had stock of old books readily available. We went from school to school to popularize initially and took orders over phone and on WhatsApp,” says Rajat, 22, adding the interactive app was finally out after years of research and development.

Besides creating a platform for sale and purchase of secondhand books, the startup offers paid internship to college students to help them gain skills for the industry and turn into future leaders, who can help in their mission to make education affordable and accessible to needy children.

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