When I arrived on campus during International Student Orientation in September, I could have never believed how quickly I would get exposed to entrepreneurship. While everyone was still trying to makes sense of all the weird abbreviations and trying not to get lost between the many Arrillaga buildings, I met Ion Esfandiari — a fellow student from Paris. We discovered we had many things in common and connected quickly, in particular, because we were both (and are still) in long-distance relationships and therefore shared some sympathy. One day later — our second day at Stanford — we were walking back to his dorm when Ion received a text message from his roommate saying he would need the room for a couple of hours for obvious reasons. Similar incidents continued to occur over the next couple of days. Disillusioned by the miscommunication with his roommate and his girlfriend planning to visit him soon, Ion jokingly said; there should be an app for this!
Less than a month later, we had come up with a prototype for our app and showed it to a couple of students. Feedback ranged from an informal “Lol, this is great“ (Andrew Tam, my roommate) to a more professional “great product-market fit“ (Udai Baisiwala, BASES co-president). This motivated us to continue to work on our app. Until the end of fall quarter we redesigned and added many features; while Ion focused on designing the user interface and implementing most of the front-end development, I decided to do the back end, analytics, and some animations. Within another two months, we had a fully viable product. After building up some social media presence and fixing last bugs, we are now in the midst of launching Roommating which just became available at 10pm on last Friday, February 16th. The concept is pretty simple; you can click on a lock button and choose one of four different time frames to occupy room virtual room for. Your roommates then receive a push notification letting them now when they can come back. So why this is better than texting? Well, first, texts are mostly left unread and awkward in the first place. But the main reasons is this; if you run into an uncomfortable situation, you can call all your roommates for help with a single force touch from your home screen — without even opening the app. In addition, Roommating lets you react to being locked out using different emojis — an easy way to let your roommate know how you feel. Right now, Roommating is more of a fun side project rather than a startup for me, but Ion and I are planning to add a lot of exciting features; we will start at the level of roommates and then use new features to build ever larger communities, first at the dorm level, then at the university, and finally across universities. In the end, my goal is to connect college students wherever they go in the world by letting them engage in activities and experiences offered by students for students — not on smart phone screens like social media, but in real life. If you’re interested in following where all of this is going, check us out!