Rafter

Textbook and course material provider for schools
Startup Cemetery
GENERAL INFORMATION
Category:
Education
Country:
United States
Started:
2006
BUSINESS FAILURE
Outcome:
Acquired
Cause:
Competition
Closed:
2016
FOUNDERS & EMPLOYEES
Number of Founders:
1
Name of Founders:
Sara Leoni
Number of Employees:
50-100
FUNDING
Number of Funding Rounds:
7
Total Funding Amount:
$86M
Number of Investors:
7

What was Rafter?

Rafter was a textbook and course material provider for schools and colleges. The company, previously known as BookRenter, initially focused only on providing textbooks to educational institutions but decided to completely change strategy to gain an upper hand on its competitors. The company rebranded as Rafter and started providing cloud-based course material.

Rafter worked with small to medium colleges in particular, which found the bulk deals they were able to get hold of with Rafter advantageous. In this way, colleges were able to lower the prices of campus store books thus encouraging students to buy course material from the university instead of off-campus sites. Rafter also allowed instructors to find, sample and manage course material and provided digital books, audio, and video media as well as codes to access various online courses platforms.

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Why did Rafter fail and shut down?

Rafter had much competition from the start and it had to deal with both logistical, financial and market challenges from the onset. For starters, it was hard to convince large institutions to buy from the company as a single-source network of providing texts and notes. Also, not all students were pleased with Rafter’s model as they thought they could get text books for more affordable prices on their own and they didn’t appreciate the fact that the company required them to return the books at the end of the term.

However, the most crucial challenge for the company was the evolution of technology and its widespread adoption and inclusion into universities. Colleges could now directly deal online with the publisher, so the need to have a middle agent such as Rafter became minimal. Rafter announced its shut down in 2016. The digital assets of Rafter, including its Rafter360 solutions, were successively bought by eCampus in 2017.

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