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May. 17, 2010 3:00 pm

How DormNoise founder Jay Rodrigues raised $500,000 from his dorm room

Two years ago, DormNoise Founder and CEO Jay Rodrigues was fed up with Facebook before it was the cool thing to do. As the Rhode Island-native was graduating high school and transitioning to life as a student at Wharton, he saw all of his high school teachers had begun to friend him on Facebook. “I thought […]

Two years ago, DormNoise Founder and CEO Jay Rodrigues was fed up with Facebook before it was the cool thing to do.

As the Rhode Island-native was graduating high school and transitioning to life as a student at Wharton, he saw all of his high school teachers had begun to friend him on Facebook.

“I thought it was kind of awkward, I wasn’t sure how much of my college life I wanted to share with them,” he says.

He then sought out to build a more closed social network for college students, eventually fine-tuning the idea as a closed online calendar for students. By his first semester of Penn, Rodrigues raised $200,000 from friends and family before raising a second round of $500,000 this month.

So how does a college freshman have an extensive enough rolodoex to raise two rounds of funding before he can buy a beer and before signing more than five major customers?

“A lot of it was shit luck,” says Rodrigues. For example, the father of one of his childhood friends is his current advisor Dominick Stirpe, who put Rodrigues in contact with his current development team. Another source of connections is his dad, who owns a textile business, that introduced Rodrigues to his legal help.

“It’s just building relationships and being a good friend,” he says. “I hate the term networking.”

The angel money was well spent, as DormNoise has signed up four colleges and says there are partnerships ready to close.

DormNoise’s calendar system allows schools to disseminate information in one click, saving the mass email. Students can then export the data to their calendar system of choice and choose who sees what data. You know, like the way Facebook used to be.

Rodrigues said that many college report seeing an uptick in student attendance at campus events after implementing the calendar (see the site’s demo video).

The friend and family money put some strain on the Wharton junior some of which went away when, on May 5th, he raised an additional $500,000 from DN Ventures and PRESENT e-Learning Systems.

Rodrigues says he plans on expanding the business to help sign on more schools and improve platform, but intended to keep his team remotely based. And, despite the new round, he plans on staying in his dorm room at Chestnut Hall, and living, well, like a college student.

“Thursday night you can find me at Drinker’s West every week,” he says.

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Sean Blanda is an adviser to Technical.ly, the local technology news network, having cofounded its flagship Technically Philly in February 2009. He is a media consultant, engagement editor for Behance and lives in Brooklyn, NYC.

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