HubEdu Departs San Diego’s Downtown Incubator After Bay Area Buyout

When San Diego’s downtown EvoNexus incubator held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony five months ago, Jonny Simkin was eager to brief me about SwoopThat, a Web startup he created with two friends in 2010 after graduating from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA. He founded the website to offer textbooks substantially below the prices listed in campus bookstores, using a metasearch engine to aggregate online sources.

We finally met last week for coffee, but it was to talk more about the end of his startup than the beginning. Simkin was moving out of EvoNexus, and in the process of moving to Northern California after selling HubEdu, a new company he started to expand beyond SwoopThat’s narrow focus on textbooks to create a Web platform for all kinds of college retailing.

If there was one point that Simkin wanted to make clear, it’s that he’s scrapped SwoopThat and changed his views.

“As students we thought the college bookstore was the problem,” he says. “But we discovered they weren’t really the problem at all.” In the time they had spent disintermediating the campus bookstore, Simkin says they learned that most are operating on a profit margin of 3.7 percent or less. That’s thinner than a math major’s term paper for Intro to English Lit.

“The problem was that they don’t have the technology they need,” Simkin says. He saw that college and university bookstores needed to act more like e-commerce companies in online sourcing, comparison pricing, managing buybacks, and understanding purchasing behavior. “We wanted to combine the knowledge we gained … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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2 responses to “HubEdu Departs San Diego’s Downtown Incubator After Bay Area Buyout”

  1. I think the draw of San Fran for developers and startup founders is a kin a draw as fly’s to bug zappers. The dream of not only having a successful startup but to enter the Silicon Valley community and to create relationships with or become the darlings of the Tech Sector is something that we all may deep down want. I went house hunting last year when I was still in school and realized that for family reasons San Diego was the best place for me to make my money, but I still try to make my yearly Mecca trip to all of the great conferences at least once a year if not more for what is always an exciting pilgrimage.

  2. Steven Cox says:

    Congrats to the team, but selfishly would love to see them stay in SD and build another company. Wishing the guys all the best.