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Web site markets to ND students

Ellyn Michalak | Monday, November 3, 2008

University of Pennsylvania sophomore, Jay Rodrigues selected Notre Dame as one of several schools nationwide to market his new college exclusive social networking Web site, Dormnoise.com.

Rodrigues, the Web site’s creator, selected schools of different size and location across the nation to promote his new college exclusive Web site. Notre Dame Dormnoise.com representative and high school friend of Rodrigues, junior Tim Durigan, will be handing out T-shirts to advertise the new Web site Wednesday afternoon outside of South Dining Hall.

“Dormnoise.com will allow Notre Dame students to know what’s going on any day of the week without the hassle of future employers being able to see aspects of their private college life posted on the Internet,” Durigan said. “It will let students connect with each other on campus in a college exclusive environment.”

Rodrigues came up with the idea for DormNoise.com at the end of his high school career after one of his former teachers sent him a friend request on Facebook.

“Basically what happened was the year was wrapping up and I was getting excited to go to college. Two things started happening: I started getting friend requests from both teachers and freshmen that I used to mentor in my peer groups,” Rodrigues said. “Now I was getting to start this new phase of my life, and these were people that I had a connection with, but I wasn’t sure how much of my college life I wanted them to have access to.”

Rodrigues immediately began brainstorming ideas for a college exclusive Web site. The summer before his freshman year of college, Rodrigues contacted several individual investors to help fund his Web site. With the money he raised, Rodrigues contacted Mediabarn, a software development firm, and began to develop the site.

DormNoise.com launched on Aug. 18 and is a new free, social Web site, exclusive to undergraduate college students between the ages of 17-24. He chose the name ‘DormNoise’ that stayed true to the college theme of the Web site.

“The name comes from the idea that whenever you walk into your dorm, either 8 a.m. or late at night, there’s always noise. I really wanted to pick a name that stayed true to our college feel. Even in my dorm at any time of day or any time of night you always hear the drone of people talking, studying, doing their homework,” Rodrigues said.

The Web site shares many aspects with Facebook, but allows college students to keep certain aspects of their university lives exclusive. The core foundation that DormNoise is built on is the idea of event planning and bringing together student groups on a college campus. With calendars embedded in every group, students are able to see events in an organized and consolidated manner and personalize their own event calendars. They even receive e-mails when groups they are involved in add events to their group calendars. Since its launch, the Web site has acquired 2,700 active members.

“The point of DormNoise is in no way trying to take over or replace Facebook,” Rodrigues said. “I am on the front line of Facebook, I love Facebook, and the whole point is for DormNoise.com to be used with Facebook. Facebook has 100 million users and consequently is not able to cater directly to the needs of college students. Basically the whole goal of DormNoise is to combine basic social tools with features customized to meet the needs of college students.”

DormNoise offers several features that are similar to Facebook. The Web site allows users to share photos, write on other members’ ‘whiteboards,’ join groups, and chat via AOL Instant Messenger. As mentioned earlier, an innovative feature of the website is the calendar system, which includes a campus events calendar for each college/university across the country.

“The calendar system allows you to easily manage your personal and student group events, as well as all campus events. The system allows users to select events they are interested in and then consolidates all of the information onto one simple calendar. With one click, it’s all there, organized, concise, and uncluttered,” Rodrigues said.

The Notre Dame network on Dormnoise.com currently has only 21 active members. The Web site’s goal is to acquire as many possible members on each campus in order to make the calendar function’s impact worthwhile.

“The site is about communicating in a secure environment but at the core DormNoise is really about student groups and event planning,” he added.

Currently, the Web site offers a chance to win an all expense paid spring break trip to Cancun, Mexico as an incentive for users who signed up before Nov. 1. The winner will be chosen on Dec. 15.

“That’s my favorite thing we’re doing because that was something I was really adamant about and it is something I negotiated for,” Rodrigues said. “When you work with investors they want to know where the money is going. I put money aside and I said ‘when we launch this thing I want do something special for the people who are signing up.’ I wanted to do it because I think it’s a really cool way to give back to users and Web sites don’t do really do that. Hopefully it can differentiate us.”

Rodrigues said he hopes that the spring break trip will inspire more college students to use his new Web site.

“It is a great tool and it is something that belongs out there. Once people go on and give it a chance they’ll love it. If they’re skeptical, it only takes a few minutes to sign up and they get an entry into winning a free spring break trip,” he said.