Taubman grad student to launch, an architecture and interior design networking site

Roomations, a new enterprise being launched by a current graduate architecture student, is an online resource for home improvement aimed primarily at homeowners undertaking do-it-yourself remodeling projects. The idea for Roomations has been brewing in graduate architecture student Katie Miller’s mind for several years.

The company acts a platform to connect homeowners with professional architects and interior designers. For designers, the platform provides an opportunity to work on freelance mini-projects—limited in scope to the remodel of a single residential room—without having to deal with marketing or business administration tasks typically associated with freelancing. For the average homeowner, offers accessible remodeling guidance from planning through construction. Katie met co-founders Jessica Goldberg and Lakshmi Bhargave at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where they developed the business plan as it stands today.

In October, Roomations won first place at the TiECon Midwest Business Plan Competition. TiECon is an organization that runs the largest entrepreneurship conference in Michigan. Roomations was one of five teams selected to present their business pitch at the conference and then chosen as one of the top three finalists at the award dinner on Saturday night. As the first place winner, the founders won a small cash prize and, more importantly, will be receiving consulting services. Most important, the team had the opportunity to pitch in front of investors, and received contact information to reach out after the company’s upcoming beta test. The audience was enthusiastic about the plan and many members wanted to use the company’s services.

Last spring the Roomations co-founders were semi-finalists in the Michigan Business Challenge, and received an Outstanding Presentation award. Over the summer Katie received a grant from the University’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurship to work on the start-up company for her summer internship. The TiECon award validates the progress that the company was able to make over the past six months, tightening the business model and marketing plan. Through her summer internship, Katie was also able the develop relationships with Ann Arbor SPARK’s Business Accelerator program and with TechArb, an incubator space where Roomations has been able to co-locate with other student start-ups focused on web technologies.

Roomations plans to launch its beta website in early 2010 and to have Version 1.0 of the site live by the end of 2010. The company is currently seeking $100,000 in angel investment to finance technology development and early-stage marketing.