Between club meetings, classes, hockey games, and study groups, college students have a lot of demands on their time.
Few entrepreneurs understand the scheduling chaos with which students must cope better than Jay Rodrigues. The Rhode Island native and founder of DormNoise is today starting his senior year at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Rodrigues, 21, launched the company, which offers an online calendaring system for colleges, just after he finished high school at the Wheeler School in Providence.
"On any given day, I'll get probably 15 or 20 e-mails about events at Penn," Rodrigues says, "and that's not including e-mails from friends. On top of that, people will hand you printed fliers when you walk around campus, or a friend might text you about a study group." DormNoise collects everything in a single online calendar, from big campus events like the homecoming parade to small gatherings like a group working on a course project together, which can be synced with a user's smart phone or a calendar system like Outlook or iCal. Students can also be alerted about events via text, if they belong to a given group — like a last-minute marching band practice, for example.
Sold as a hosted application, universities can either pay a fee of about $2 per student to use DormNoise, or allow the company to sell corporate sponsorships to their application, and use it for free. (Colleges can also choose to blend those two options, paying less per student and perhaps even generating some revenue through the sale of corporate sponsorships.)
The company recently signed Bay State College in Boston and Newbury College in Brookline to three-year contracts. Rodrigues says DormNoise has raised
$500,000 $950,000 in funding so far (some of the earliest came from his father, who runs a textile dyeing and printing company in Fall River.) The company operates virtually, with a half-dozen employees scattered around Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Florida. "We're gearing up to raise more money to bring everyone to one location," Rodrigues says, perhaps as soon as January. Both Philadelphia and Boston are under consideration.
Here's a company-produced video demo:
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.