While many students probably spent the summer at the beach or with friends and family, longtime pals Bryce Widelitz and Taylor Robinson worked to simplify dorm room decorating. Their result was collegeroomcreator.com, an interactive Web site that lets users digitally design their dream dorm.
When the two college graduates were freshmen, they ran into common problems students have when moving into their first dorm. Some products didn’t fit, decorations didn’t match and they didn’t have all the necessities.
By his sophomore year, Robinson had an idea that led to collegeroomcreator.com, which eventually launched in May. On June 8, it was updated with a 3-D room designer, and since then, the site has received over 10,000 hits.
“We’re doing well for being a brand new company and getting our name out there,” Widelitz said. “It’s definitely been an exciting process over the summer. Everything’s kind of a learning curve for the first year.”
The Web site works in a four-step process outlined on the home page. Users can then create an optional account, which will allow them to move and place furniture in their virtual dorms.
During the process, the users look at a 3-D model of the dorm. Then they can drag, organize and drop products into the room and even purchase the products online.
“I know most people don’t have a car on campus (freshman year), so it makes it easy. Instead of taking the bus or cab or walking or biking, you can order online and have it shipped right to your dorm room,” Widelitz said.
Not all schools or residence halls have a specific 3-D model on the site – including USF. The creators, who said they get hundreds of requests a day from students, depend on the schools to send layouts of their residence halls.
Anything from pictures to a virtual tour can help them create the models. The best way to have a school added is to request it, but also to talk with the university about sending media, Widelitz said. He said USF students interested in seeing their dorms or school related products on the site should request them by clicking “contact” in the upper right corner of the Web site.
The University can also sign up to be a partner by e-mailing the creators at email@example.com.
Collegeroomcreator.com is an affiliate of amazon.com, so the availability of the products – like school-specific bedding – depends on what’s in stock. Because of its affiliation, however, the site has a broad selection, and almost any dorm product on Amazon can be made available. Most orders over $25 ship for free, Widelitz said.
The most popular products are bedding and chairs, but Widelitz said the site carries some fun and unique products as well.
The Moshi Voice Interactive Alarm Clock is one example. Students can set alarms simply by saying, “set alarm.” The site also offers space-utilizing items like the “SlouchBack,” which for a pricey $99 will turn a dorm bed into a couch.
The site remains useful all year and is not strictly limited to dorm dcor. Parents can shop in the online store and send care packages to students, such as the popular College Survival Kit, which includes items like poster tack, air freshener and a first-aid kit.
There’s also a book section where students can buy helpful college advice books, and a school supply section for basics like pencils and backpacks.
The site is still growing, though. Aside from adding more dorm rooms and products, Widelitz and Robinson want to expand to apartments.
“The next step is being able to see the whole layout and then clicking on an individual room and having that room come up,” said Widelitz.
For now, however, the site serves its purpose. With 18 well-organized shopping categories, nine generic dorm layouts and a useful dorm checklist, collegeroomcreator.com does exactly what it claims to do on its front page and makes moving into a new dorm “a whole lot easier.”