Along with warmer weather this summer, Miami University students can expect to save money, support local business and be more environmentally friendly.
VirDocs.com, a Miami alumnus’ start-up business that distributes documents online, recently partnered with Oxford Copy Shop to offer digital copies of course packets, lab manuals and other academic materials. VirDocs co-founder and 2010 graduate Greg Fenton and his college roommate Tim Haitaian started experimenting with websites and classifieds during their freshman year at Michigan State University and when a professor asked if Fenton could sell his lab manuals online for him, he instantly became an entrepreneur.
“We figured we’d go to the local businesses (in college towns), give them the tools to do (digital distribution) and that way we’d be able to grow faster (while) supporting local businesses and in turn, catch our flank and keep us up-to-date with everything,” Fenton said.
VirDocs provides a digital resource for course packets that saves students money when production costs are factored out. Students will be able to purchase digital course packets online through VirDocs.com and combination/print-only course packets will still be available at Oxford Copy Shop.
“For college students, price is a big deal,” Fenton said. “If you can get something for $30 that was $60, a lot of students are happy to save that $30.”
Senior Ewa Cabaj identified additional incentives aside from saving money with VirDocs.
“I’ve been looking for a way to save paper,” she said. “I feel bad having these really thick course packets and then not reading them or even using them and everything we do right now is on the computer … it’d be so much handier.”
Oxford Copy Shop Owner JC Rupel explained how the partnership with VirDocs was beneficial.
“It’s just a win-win for everybody,” Rupel said. “Low cost for some, more revenue for us and more recognition because now we’re doing something that no one else is doing in town.”
Rupel said he appreciates Fenton’s expertise with technology and suspected Miami students would appreciate the digital option.
“We’re always trying to stay at the leading edge, trying to meet customer demands and Miami kids are at the leading edge of technology,” he said.
Digital course packets, however, are not always an option for students. Professors work with Oxford Copy Shop to do one of three options: print only, a combination of print and digital copies or solely digital.
Rupel has seen professors’ course packet preferences vary in recent years.
“We’re all for choice,” Rupel said. “It depends on the classes and it depends on the professor.”
Professors will work with Rupel to determine security and time restrictions on their course packets. For example, VirDocs can set expiration dates for course packets, or prevent printing, saving or transferring documents through the website, Fenton said.
VirDocs introduced documents on laptops for summer 2011 and starting in fall 2011, VirDocs would reach tablets such as the iPad.
“We know that’s the future of the business,” Fenton said, adding that VirDocs would eventually be accessible on mobile devices.
VirDocs hopes to have three or four clients for summer 2011.
Fenton currently works as a regional manager for a manufacturing company, and when he finds free time in his travel schedule, he works on building VirDocs’ client base.
A copy shop in Illinois has also agreed to partner with VirDocs. A full launch is expected for fall 2011 to ensure efficiency before expanding the business.