Making time to do laundry on top of every other responsibility that college students have can seem like an insurmountable burden. There’s lugging your load of dirty clothing to the nearest laundry room, waiting for machines to become available, remembering to switch over to the dryer and the most dreaded part — folding and putting away your newly laundered clothing. But what if you could hire another student to do it for you?
Luckily, Dormzi, a service-exchange network for students created by CAS junior Sabine Rizvi and Colorado College junior Milan Kordestani, launched in the beginning of the fall 2019 semester.
Currently, Dormzi allows users, called Dormers, to request help with the completion of tasks in four areas — tutoring, errands, laundry and cleaning. The requests are then picked up by Dormzis, students who provide the service. A fifth feature, food delivery, is coming soon, but the founders says they envision adding many more features to this micro-economy.
“The goal for Dormzi is to be ‘the app’ for all student needs,” Rizvi said. “We want to have everything from textbook exchange to furniture exchange, gym training.”
Version two of the app is expected to launch as early as February 2020, and will feature updates aimed at making the experience more comprehensive. Meanwhile, Rizvi is turning to her own student life for inspiration for expanding the features offered by Dormzi.
“Even though balancing being working and being a student is really hard, it’s also really good for what I’m doing with Dormzi, because it’s marketed towards students,” Rizvi said. “I feel like it really allows me to improve on the product all the time at any point, like I’m always writing down ideas that I think of.”
The updates she has in mind are not limited to new task areas. As an app aimed at addressing all student needs, Dormzi will begin hosting events focused on networking and mentorship.
During her first year at NYU, Rizvi, like many others, was struck with the realization that she was embarking on a new journey alone. She started to explore the idea of building a network on campus, where students going through the same experience could help each other out.
“The idea was that I could hire students for something that I need that I don’t have time for, but I could provide services for other students,” Rizvi said. “This two-way exchange could be a really powerful thing on campus that doesn’t really exist as yet.”
While basic platforms for students to connect, such as Facebook groups, were available, Rizvi wanted to create a single virtual space where students could both hire students to provide simple services and earn money by completing tasks for others. In order to put the idea in action, she partnered up with her high school friend and serial entrepreneur, Kordestani.
In addition to Dormzi, Kordestani is a part of two other startups: The Doe, a publication where contributors can share personal experiences and opinions anonymously, and Guin Records, a label aiming to bring purpose-driven rap back to the mainstream.
“Sabine and I have been best friends most of high school and all of college,” Kordestani wrote in an email to WSN. “Just like most good friends, one day we half-jokingly started talking about building a company together and what it would be. Sabine came up with the original concept, and after discussing the details more, we decided to go for it!”
Rizvi and Kordestani immediately decided that the platform had to be in the form of an app to fit into today’s smartphone-centric culture. After conducting market research, the duo started working with designers, and once the initial designs were finalized, they stepped on to the development process. Excited to get the product out there and get feedback for improvement, the duo launched Dormzi in beta in fall 2018. However, the official launch came in fall 2019 at NYU and Florida State University.
“I want to encourage students to start building and take advantage of any opportunities they have,” Kordestani wrote. “There’s so much opportunity around us that I think our generation should be at the forefront of building and changing in every field! Build, build, build!”
The duo’s goal is to make the app available at every college in the U.S., and eventually to expand globally. While this growth will require elaborate specialization to meet the demands of different campuses, Dormzi plans on establishing a web of brand ambassadors to work at the campuses in the near future. For now, Rizvi is leading the marketing at NYU, and a field team is already working at FSU.
“I definitely think that on campuses where there is already a community field Dormzi would really fit right in, and on campuses like NYU where there isn’t one it can really work to create one,” Rizvi said.
While growing up in Silicon Valley laid the foundation for Rizvi’s entrepreneurial instincts, she says the infectious energy of New York City combined with NYU’s individualistic culture is what drives her.
“I think the good thing about NYU is that a lot of people work outside of school, and you’re in the city,” Rizvi said. “There are so many opportunities that life at NYU really allows me to do versus if I was at a more secluded campus college, I feel like the experience would be so school and campus-centric that I might not be able to devote myself as much as I am, being at NYU.”
True to New York City’s ambitious spirit, Rizvi is also working on side hustles. In addition to being the co-founder and COO of Dormzi, she is also a private stylist managing two high-profile clients, sits on the e-board of NYU Women in Communications and co-runs a food Instagram. However, Rizvi is ready to live and breathe Dormzi for the years to come. Luckily, she has supportive parents and mentors to support her along the way.
“That’s something I was also lucky to have because having an idea is one thing but being able to actually work on it is definitely another step that not everyone gets to do,” Rizvi said. “I think at first I was like, I never envisioned myself in this school, but now that I’m here, I’m super grateful and I wanna keep making it better and keep working on it as much as I can, especially while I’m still in school.”