How a Bad Roommate Sparked a Dorm-Room Startup-Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How a Bad Roommate Sparked a Dorm-Room Startup

Just weeks after moving into the dorms at the University of Pittsburgh, Justin Mares started thinking about transferring. The problem wasn't his professors or his classes. It was his roommate.

"He was unhappy and antisocial, the classic horrible roommate," recalls Mares, 22. "It really showed me how a bad match impacted the experience I had at school."

Mares realized that the basic questionnaires given to incoming students were too vague to make effective roommate pairings and thought colleges could instead apply the type of technology used by online dating sites. He brought his idea for online matching software, which he dubbed RoommateFit, to 100 college administrators to gauge their interest. The feedback was positive.

"Schools are concerned about retention, and this is one tool that can help increase student satisfaction," the 2012 grad says.

Aided by a $2,000 prize from the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, Mares worked with a psychologist to perfect the software, developing a detailed questionnaire that measures personality traits ranging from conscientiousness to verbal aggression. Dan Walker, a computer science major at the University of Pittsburgh, also joined the startup... Read More»

By: Jodi Helmer, Inc. Magazine