Published 05/29/14

Roommates’ sketches bear fruit: Web-based company competes with Facebook, Yahoo

Founders of MyWebRoom.comArtem Fedyaev ’12 doesn’t want people to “miss out on a cool experience.” That “cool experience” is, co-founded by Fedyaev and his Bryant roommate John Gonzalez ’12.

The duo transitioned from Bryant’s Smithfield campus, where they sketched ideas for this business in their Hall 2 suite, to San Francisco, where they attend meetings and presentations at which entrepreneurial giants – including Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer– speak to budding and experienced entrepreneurs.

As the company evolved, two Bryant faculty members provided feedback and market research., their startup, allows a user to create a free profile represented by a room that organizes his or her favorite Web and social media sites and virtual and real products. “Everyone needs a room on the Internet where they can organize their favorite things,” says Fedyaev, who was born and raised in Russia and now is the startup's CEO.

By recognizing that dorm rooms evolve – based on the occupants’ personalities and passions – Fedyaev and Gonzalez “connected the dots,” Fedyaev explains. “It’s a powerful metaphor. We all get the same dorm room and two weeks later, each room gets a unique character, with furniture, posters, books … based on the people living there." Keys allow users’ friends to “look but not touch.”

In the summer of 2012, Fedyaev, an International Business graduate, and Gonzalez, who paused his remaining Entrepreneurship studies at Bryant, headed out to Silicon Valley to pursue the company of their dreams.

As the company evolved from idea to reality, Madan Annavarjula, Ph.D., now the Associate Dean of College of Business, and Assistant Professor Srdan Zdravkovic, Ph.D., provided feedback and market research, respectively. “Now I have a career,” says the appreciative Fedyaev.

At Bryant, Annavarjula was one of Fedyaev’s mentors. “I learned a lot from him about dedication.”

His businessman father’s advice resonates daily: “If you start something, you have to finish it; never stop in the middle.”

By the end of 2012 – only a few months after Fedyaev graduated – the two had raised sufficient capital to open an office in San Francisco with a committed team working full-time on the concept. Not only have they shared a room with Zuckerberg, Cuban, and Mayer, among other great entrepreneurs, “now, we even compete with them, which makes it even more exciting,” Gonzalez notes.

Millennials are the company’s target audience; earns commissions when any of its 30,000 (and growing) users purchase products depicted in their rooms.

Delighted by the San Francisco Bay area’s outstanding business networking opportunities, Fedyaev calls “getting the right people” his biggest professional challenge, as there’s far more demand than supply. His ideal hires? Those who “want to grow with a company, dream big, improve their own skills and risk doing something they’ve never done before.”

What he’s learned “by going out and just trying to get things done,” is beyond words, says Gonzalez, the company’s president. “My passion was entrepreneurship, and every day I was doing what I was passionate about. And I still am.”