Student holds key to web bargains

April 7, 2000

Heidelberg economics student Christopher Munchhoff and fellow student Christoph Janz have put internet e-business theories into practice.

In 1997 they came up with the idea for a price comparison tool to track the cheapest online offers for books worldwide. They developed a technology and formed a company, now called, which has rapidly branched out into price comparisons for CDs, videos and DVDs.

Last year the media giant Bertelsmann bought a 50 per cent stake in the public limited company, which now has a presence in New York as well as in Heidelberg.

The company's latest development is software called evenbetterexpress, which allows users to obtain price comparisons instantly while they browse any leading online shop. already claims to be the leading online shopping comparison service for media products, with the majority of users in the United States and Britain, where book prices are flexible and online shopping is more widespread.

Mr Munchhoff, aged 24, one of three on the management board of the Bertelsmann subsidiary, said: "If we went on the market with the same concept today we would be much too late because this field is so competitive."

The company is not yet making a profit because it wants to expand and invest. "But the prospects are good," said Mr Munchhoff, who now devotes three quarters of his time to his company but still hopes to finish his degree this autumn.

A computer expert in Berlin has discovered a market catering for students' social lives on the internet. Valentin Akdemir launched last August as a website for lonely hearts ads.

The idea has caught on, and it has now expanded to adverts for flat shares, car-ride shares and chat sites. It is planning to organise parties with sponsors and to expand into the international market.

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