Rule The School

Membership-based college student discount program
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the March 2000 issue of . Subscribe »

Picture the scenario: You've been mulling over a superb plan for the past several months, when you read an article profiling someone who's already left the gate with the very same concept. "%&$*!" is right. So you retreat, defeated, back to your gloomy day job, or you go through with it anyway--the latter of which only truly zealous entrepreneurs, like Ray Sozzi, 31, choose to tackle.

Nearing graduation from the of Massachusetts at North Dartmouth, Sozzi had almost fleshed out his idea for a membership-based student discount program dubbed Student Advantage, but he took a cushy job at a consulting firm anyway. He then discovered that , one of the nation's largest test-prep companies, had launched an exact replica of his student discount idea, eerily named Student Access. "The only difference was the second word!" Sozzi remembers.

Realizing it was now or never, Sozzi quit his job in 1992, depleted his bank account, ran up $25,000 in credit card debt, and sold his car and condo to get Student Advantage Inc. established in time for the upcoming "back to school" season. With $100,000 and a staff that didn't receive regular salaries for more than two years, Sozzi refined his business model while researching the college population's spending power.

By arranging partnerships with universities and leveraging every business contact imaginable, Student Advantage has grown into not just the nation's largest collegiate discount network, but also a full-fledged student lifestyle resource. For a $20 membership fee, its more than 1 million members get discounts of 10 to 50 percent at some 20,000 sponsor locations, including Foot Locker and Tower Records. Students also receive a quarterly student lifestyle magazine and access to, which offers discounts, student-focused content, and services such as e-mail and file storage. Sales for the first three quarters of 1999 were nearly $20 million.

The smartest part of success? Student Advantage has acquired all four of its competitors--including former nemesis Student Access.


More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Are you paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.

Latest on Entrepreneur