Wow, I just found this in my inbox from over a month ago and had forgotten all about it. I came across a website called Dorm Delicious which is a dorm room design focused blog/webiste. It is run by another young entrepreneur, Andrew Skinner, and I figured it would be a great way to learn about the the website and his experiences through a quick interview. Here are the questions and answers, feel free to leave any comments and be sure to check out Andrew’s site.
1. How old are you, where are you attending college, and what will you be studying?
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m 20 and I am a junior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. I am currently studying Commerce, Organizations and Entrepreneurship with a focus in Organizational Studies.
2. What sparked your interest in entrepreneurship?
I have always been interested in starting my own business. In high school I had a small software company where I sold some small applications I built. In college I have gotten much more involved in entrepreneurship and have taken a number of classes. I am beginning to think of it more seriously as a career. I think what really sparked my interest, though, was making my first sale in high school. It is a great feeling of validation to know that someone finds something you made useful enough to pay for it.
3. How did you come up with the idea behind DormDelicious and what made you want to pursue the venture?
Last summer I was making plans for college, including trying to put a little more effort into my room than I did freshman year. Everything I found was trying to sell you something or was written years earlier by a parent or even grandparent. Basically, it was all terrible advice. I really wanted to see what students were doing and not what parents hoped they would do with their dorms. I had mulled it over, but I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seriously consider starting the site until I brought the idea up with my girlfriend, Courtney, over Easter vacation. She thought it was a great idea, and agreed to help write some of content and develop the features with me, so I made a commitment to start this summer.
4. How long has DormDelicious been running?
The site has been up and running since the end of May but I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t post the first real article until July 5th. So really it has been running for about a month.
5. What current marketing strategies are you using to get your site more visitors and are you planning on generating income from the site, if so how?
I have been largely relying on search engine marketing initially. I have some other sites that I linked to DormDelicious to get it indexed quickly by Google. Since then a fair amount of traffic has come in, no doubt from college students preparing to head back to school this fall. In addition I have been submitting articles to various news aggregators Ã¢â‚¬â€œ netscape.com, reddit, and QuadRiot, for example. I think QuadRiot has produced the best traffic since it is targeted at college students. Depending on how things go this month I might consider buying ads on Facebook at a few schools this fall.
As far as income is concerned, it is primarily coming from Google AdSense ads at this point. I am planning on trying to optimize that income as much as possible, but I am also hoping to do some affiliate marketing through amazon.com, AllPosters, and other similar sites. Direct-linking to products is time consuming, however, so that will be an incremental process.
6. Do you have any kind of expansion plans that you would like to implement with DormDelicious to see it grow?
I would love to see the site grow into more of a community. Right now I think visitors are finding the articles helpful, and a few people have made comments, but I really want to reach out for feedback from students. In particular, I am hoping that people will start submitting pictures of their dorm rooms and dorm decorating projects. I have thought about creating a discussion form as well, but I would like to start the community aspect with getting people to comment on articles and submit their pictures.
7. Have you ever started any other projects or businesses in your life?
I started a software company, Likely Software (http://www.likelysoft.com/), when I was in high school. In addition I have been helping to start RoundOne, a community site for aspiring entrepreneurs (http://www.roundone.com).
8. From the experiences you have had already with DormDelicious, do you see yourself starting another venture in the future or during college?
I would love to start another venture while in school. In fact, I have a few ideas already brewing, but I want to really commit to making DormDelicious a success right now. I am not sure where my path will take me after school but I would love to start a business myself or be involved in someoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s startup. I have read about and listened to a lot of entrepreneurs as part of my curriculum and it seems really exciting if you succeed (although I suppose failure could be exciting too).
9. What has been the most important lesson you have learned from starting and running the project?
I think the important lesson is that good content and good writing will drive a site more than anything else. My girlfriend and I have been able to tap into a tone for the site that is different from most dorm decorating websites, i.e. that of a student. We havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been writing with search keywords in mind, and we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been writing random useless text to increase word count, but we have been getting a lot of traffic and a lot of positive feedback.
10. What advice would you give to a new college student who is interested in entrepreneurship and starting a venture/business while in school?
Do it! College is a great time to experiment, and you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have much to lose. Chances are youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve figured out a way to support yourself, and you probably arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t making house payments or car payments, and you arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t paying off your student loans yet. Unless you plan to become a serial entrepreneur it will be much harder to start a business out of school. In college you have lots of connections Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to professors, friends, etc. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who can help you out. And an added bonus is that if you start a business that is geared towards college students, like DormDelicious, you instantly have a market you can tap Ã¢â‚¬â€œ your friends.