Tanner McCraney’s idea for Rumie began with seven lamps and a heartfelt goodbye from his mom and dad after being dropped off to begin his freshman year at Ole Miss. After being left with the “absurd number of lamps,” he set out to clear some space in his small dorm room by selling some on Facebook Marketplace.
That was where things took a turn.
“To my surprise, I was met with creeps and scammers wanting to meet up with me in a Walmart parking lot or wanting me to come in their house, and they were non-university students,” McCraney said. “So this was terrifying. I was like, I don't want to go to your house, or I don't want to meet you in the middle of a Walmart parking lot, I just want to sell this with a student.”
Rumie, an app designed specifically for college students to buy, sell and rent textbooks, tickets, clothing, electronics, furniture, move out supplies and other goods exclusively to fellow college students, intends to cut down on those interactions while also limiting the time sellers spend advertising their items on other apps such as Instagram and GroupMe.
According to McCraney, students will also have the option to coordinate shipped purchases between campuses through Rumie itself by the end of the semester. Users currently are required to independently handle shipping if buying or selling an item on a different campus.
In addition to listings posted by students, Rumie also advertises specials and other deals from local businesses.
“With the new version, we also have a deals page where it's just gonna be an entire page where we allow local businesses to offer discounts to students,” McCraney said. “College students are broke, including myself, and if students need to find a cheap meal, they could go look on the deals page and see whatever the cheapest meal is nearby, or who's offering a discounted meal for students.”
Today, Rumie has nearly 6,500 users spread throughout schools including Ole Miss, the University of Alabama and Mississippi State with ambassadors now at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Ohio, Ohio State University, Michigan State, Indiana University and the University of Tennessee.
However, the app almost never came to fruition.
As McCraney increasingly noticed his fellow students turning to these apps to circumvent the unpleasant encounters he himself faced, the idea for the Rumie grew from just an idea to a serious proposal. All it took was a business competition organized by Ole Miss.
“Truth be told, we got smoked. We got kicked out in the first round, and we were like, wow,” said Patrick Phillips, McCraney’s longtime high school friend and business major who had the business expertise necessary to help develop the initial proposal. “Like dude, we know we have good feedback on the idea. But they're like you’ve got nothing more than an idea. So at that point, we decided let's take this thing seriously. So we worked for the entire summer to make the app and get it developed.”
After that humbling experience, McCraney and Phillips set out to polish their plan and get Rumie off the ground, staying up late to meet with developers located in India and working through bugs found in initial codes. Soon after, Caki Field, a current undergraduate student at Ole Miss, also joined the team.
Yet despite those frustrations, McCraney believes the benefits Rumie provides regarding security have been worth their efforts.
“This student, her boyfriend is a vintage clothes reseller, and he was selling a pair of shoes and got held at gunpoint on Facebook Marketplace in New Orleans,” McCraney said. “And so she reached out to me saying how much Rumi had helped her and so that's definitely another validating thing that comes with the business.”
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Daniel Schmidt, senior in journalism, is the assistant news editor for the Auburn Plainsman.