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Innovation & Startups

RoommateFit--be gone the misery of terrible freshman-year pairings

Ever hear the story of the horrible roommate freshman year? Chances are you told it.
"My roommate and I had nothing in common except we played hockey in high school," recalls Justin Mares, a senior at University of Pittsburgh. "It was so bad I almost applied to another university. Fortunately, I had such a good time my sophomore year I ended up staying."
Mares and his partner Donald Huh, a Carnegie Mellon undergrad, are AlphaLab partners who hope to abolish those freshman year nightmares.  Their company RoommateFit is an eHarmony for the roommate search, using a research-based matching questionnaire to create more compatible roommate pairings. 
The company is among the latest class of Alpha Lab startups working on the South Side.
Bad roommate pairings are a major factor in freshman dropouts and low first semester GPAs, explains Mares. Freshman misery also impacts thousands of universities across the country financially. 
Here's how it works. Incoming college freshman are sent a link to the site where they're asked to fill out a carefully researched questionnaire. The system uses a Ph.D. developed personality-based matching test to measure a student's level of social consciousness, which is determined by factors such as extroversion and personal verbal aggressiveness. 
Far less important to the process is one's sleeping hours, music preferences and whether or not one smokes, says Mares.
RoommateFit recently formed a partnership with Resident Management Systems (RMS), a leading provider of web-based university housing solutions, a promising first step for the young company. 

Mares, a finance and business major from Arlington, Va., is handling the sales and business side while Huh, who grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., is developing the technology.  
"AlphaLab has been fantastic in helping to mentor us in a very structured way, helping us to think through what we should be building into the product," says Mares. "If all goes well, we hope to run with this after graduation." 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Justin Mares
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