Q&A with creator of Chapinka, a website to buy and sell housing contracts and used textbooks

Written by: 
Alex Maldonado
Sam Holst, a senior from Nevada studying Spanish and psychology at BYU at Provo, answered a few questions about his student goods website, www.chapinka.com. BYU-Hawaii are able to use it as well.
Q: How would you describe Chapinka? What does it do?
A: I would describe the website as being a place for university students to interact and exchange in the buying and selling of housing contracts and textbooks with ease with [others from] their university. It is a way to avoid bookstores and the heavy prices of the textbook industry, and also to sell housing contracts if you are moving.
Q: What would you say would be an advantage to using Chapinka over a dedicated, established buy/sell Facebook page?
A: The buy and sell Facebook pages do a decent job, but you have to repost and repost and repost over and over again and they get lost in the feeds. Also, people who don't have Facebook don’t use them. Another [disadvantage] is you cannot search on those pages for specific posts. On Chapinka, you can search directly for the complex name, book title, and many other things to find your items.
Q: How does Chapinka work?
A: It is a very simple connection. The user makes an account, determines the price of their item, posts it, and the buyer then makes an offer on what they have posted. The seller gets sent an email notifying them of the user wanting to buy, what the item is that was bid on, and posted price vs. the offered price. If the seller likes [the price] the buyer has offered, they either respond [by phone or email] and seal the deal with the buyer. I have made a video and posted how it works on the home page, and now users will get an email straight after signing up about how it works.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration?
A: Before I got married, I was trying to sell the contract for the place I was living in. After getting married, I was not able to sell it for its remaining months and lost nearly $800. That was the starting point for me to want to help others sell their contracts. [Also], I got tired of being ripped off by the extremely low prices the bookstores offered back for my books I bought, along with buying textbooks for ridiculously high prices. I wanted to create a website that allowed students to recycle their items and get the prices they deserved and wanted for them.
Q: What schools are most involved in using Chapinka?
A: The main schools at the moment that have the most traffic are BYU in Provo, BYU Idaho, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Utah Valley University. Typically, at the beginning of semesters the website will get hundreds of hits per day, then mellow out to around 30-50 hits per day after that.
Q:  Is your website backed by the universities? How have you been spreading the word?
A: I have been trying to contact the schools to see if they would like to support it, but they do not respond back to my emails. I have been getting the word out through social media and flyers around campus. As of now the website is starting to pick up with traffic, and I have tons of textbooks posted at the moment with the hope of it picking up more.
Q: Do you plan on ever expanding your services beyond housing contracts and textbook trading?
A: That is a great possibility. I have ideas for making it a college hub for any college need or a forum, but I need to get the roots firm and have more students using it [before] I possibly expand.
Q: Where does the name Chapinka come from?
A: Chapinka comes from two places. I wanted to make a unique name personalized to my life. I served a mission for the LDS church in Guatemala, and in that country Guatemalans are [commonly] called Chapines, a local term for those from Guatemala. Inca comes from my Peruvian wife’s roots, so I decided to combine both terms, and thus was born Chapinka.
Ethan Hardy, a senior BYU business management major from Utah, has used the site and said, “All the other sites or services I have used to sell my books at the end of the semester always ripped me off. Chapinka is run by a student with no other agenda other than to help students out. It provides a way for students to communicate and get the best offer on books and housing contracts. When it runs to capacity, I could see it helping many students. It wouldn’t be like bigger organizations making a ton of money off students who are already struggling financially and have many loans over their heads when they finish.”
The website is currently being offered to eight universities, including the three BYUs, LDS Business College, Utah Valley University, Utah State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, and College of Southern Nevada.
Date Published: 
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Last Edited: 
Thursday, September 29, 2016