The prospects for a Facebook for calendaring

Bambi Francisco Roizen · March 8, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/e2c

Angel investor Jeff Clavier analyzes the opportunities for a calendar service for colleges

With Facebook sporting a potential $40 billion valuation, the idea of starting a service focused solely on colleges sounds like a smart starting point. After all, Facebook got its start by serving only students at Harvard.

DormNoise is a budding company started by 21-yr-old Jay Rodrigues, a junior at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. The startup, which is focused on making it easier for students and college organizations to put on and manage events, was a recent finalist at the Keiretsu Angel Forum competition on Vator. 

In this segment of Vator Box, top-notch angel investor Jeff Clavier, sits down with VB host Ezra Roizen and me, to analyze Jay's prospects. 

Here are some highlights:

Pitch - Excellent job. Jay is engaging. He talks about the problem, consequences, solution and go-to-market strategy. He's energetic. Per Jeff, "He captured my attention in the first 10 seconds and 30 seconds and for two minutes I was listening." Nice job, Jay! He was also very clear and concise. (This is key to selling yourself and business.)

Novelty - It's clever and interesting, but not groundbreaking. There are companies, such as Affinity Circles, that are focused on providing social networking tools for academic institutions. Additionally, this is a derivative business of what Facebook is already offering for colleges. The idea of a Facebook for "student calendars" doesn't sound big enough to be a venture-backed business. This could easily be a lifestyle business. Not everyone has to build a $100 million business. And, it's unclear that DormNoise can become one without showing some traction.

Business model - Facebook easily became attractive to VCs after the company showed significant traction in Harvard and in other schools. To this end, if Jay could show traction, he would get some attention. At the moment, DormNoise doesn't serve Wharton, which may be a red flag. Here's Jay's response as to why DormNoise hasn't landed Jay's own school. "Unfortunately, my school has a policy that prohibits the use of products or services that are provided by companies that current students operate. I was disappointed to learn that the only reason that UPenn would not implement DormNoise was because of a policy, but I look forward to their business when I graduate!" 

Currently, DormNoise serves the Official Student Calendar System of Bryant & Stratton College, Bay State College, and Clemson University's College of Health, Education, and Human Development's Living and Learning Community. Additionally, it is in the contract process with Baltimore City Community College and are in the process of closing sales with a variety of other schools, including Louisiana State University and Rutgers.  

Advice - Change the business model from charging schools $2 per students. Schools are cash-strapped and it's difficult to charge them. Try focusing on a lead-gen model and get vendors who want to get in front of the captive audience of students and event organizers to pay for the service.

Finally, Jeff was so impressed with Jay that he'd be willing to sit down with him and learn more, and listen to his future ventures.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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DormNoise is an interactive student calendar system that gives students a series of interconnected personal, student group, and campus-wide calendars to organize all of their student events, and lets them sync everything to the most popular calendar applications and smartphones.

By implementing DormNoise, colleges or universities gain access to a feature set that will dramatically improve:

     1. Communication on a campus-wide basis

     2. Student organization, engagement, and awareness

     3. Student participation in events and student groups

 

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