Searching for answers? That’s what Eric Cheung was doing when he came up with his idea to create a virtual tutorial school.
Cheung, 25, graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in computer engineering. During his university days he found there were few places for students to share and collaborate ideas regarding academic topics.
“I wanted a community of students from different schools around the world where they could learn from each other,” he says on why he started OneBigU.
Basically, students can log onto the website and ask or answer academic-related questions.
OneBigU also partnered with the non-profit organization, Help Darfur Now (HDN). The organization is dedicated to raising awareness of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. HDN was founded by three New Jersey high school students in 2005. According to the website, the money for donations comes from the sponsors and advertisers on the site, therefore ensuring the site stays free for students.
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“Not everyone has tons of money to give away, so the ads make it possible for anyone who contributes answers to raise funds for a great cause,” he says.
OneBigU took a year to develop, with the official launch date happening last month on Jan. 23. Already the site has 66 members.
Cheung hopes to partner with many different charities and eventually build the capability to let members choose to which partnered charity they would like to donate.
“Future partner charities will be determined by running a poll for users to choose the next charity,” he adds.
He also wants to expand OneBigU to include a database where students can search for old exams, assignments and study notes.
So, what has Cheung learned through his experience of building an online community?
“If you have a cool idea that you are passionate about, then you should carry it through,” he advises. “You are guaranteed to get a lot of naysayers, especially those that say you have no experience, but don’t let them shake your confidence. The new skills you learn and connections you make will be astounding.”