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How one UVA student's tech made parties safer, greener and more fun

UVA senior David Roselle set out to make events safer, greener and more fun with an app called DoorList.
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UVA senior David Roselle set out to make events safer, greener and more fun with an app called DoorList.

David Roselle is a busy guy – a double major in business and computer science who’s on UVA’s lacrosse team, belongs to a fraternity and, in his spare time, started a business making college parties safer, greener and more fun.

“Most events would use wristbands. We’d have to buy them and pass them out, and then after the event they’d be littered everywhere,” he recalls.

So he developed an app for events of less than 5,000 people – a platform that planners can use to organize, send invitations and control access. DoorList provides invited guests or those who have paid for admission with a secure QR code on their phones. That’s what companies like Ticketmaster do, but Roselle says they charge a lot.

“You know the ticketing space has gotten a little out of control with fees, and it was something that was really important to us, because of the types of organizations using this," Roselle explains. "A lot of our events are philanthropic, because a lot of times in college events aren’t free unless they’re raising money for something. You don’t want to pay to go to a party unless it’s going to charity, and so we don’t want to take a quarter or a third of the revenue as some of the incumbents in the ticketing space do.”

His firm charges 15% of paid ticket revenues – or nothing if the event is free, and for $350 a semester DoorList offers additional services that allow hosts to text message guests and see who was at their event at any given time.

“There are concerns about a lot of different liability issues, and it used to be you just sort of hoped that everyone had the wrist band they were supposed to be there and didn’t sneak in, and they didn’t give a fake name at the door. Now you have the ability to know exactly who’s inside your house, what time they arrived, what time they left. A lot of these organizations love having the ability, in a situation where you need that information, to see who was actually here?”

If something gets broken or stolen, for example, it could be easier to identify the culprit.

And Roselle came up with another cool feature – the ability to share photos with others at the party.

“It’s kind of fun to be able to post things just for the people who are actually there. You almost commodify being there and being part of these in-person experiences. I think especially coming off the pandemic where we were all separated, and the only thing keeping us together was virtual connection.”

Roselle took five months to create the app – testing it with friends to make sure it would work.

“You know I kind of thought you only have one chance at this. If you roll it out and it doesn’t really work and it’s glitching, people aren’t going to use it again, and so it had to be perfect.”

And, he says, it was. Already, it’s in use at more than 40 schools, and the word has spread with a minimum of marketing.

“The reason it’s grown is because people will visit UVA, or they’ll be at UT-Austin, and they’ll go to a DoorList event and think, ‘Wow, this would be perfect for my fraternity at Wisconsin.’”

Roselle will graduate this month, and he’s got a job waiting -- thinking up other ways that DoorList can enhance the party experience and increase revenue.

“You know a lot of our events sell T-shirts, and so could that be something through the app? Could we partner with the T-shirt company so you could actually buy your T-shirt right after you scan in and thinking about things like that.

And he’s already making news, winning $5,000 from the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup last spring and being featured in Yahoo Finance for one of the most disruptive business school start-ups of 2022. So far, Roselle figures, his app has replaced about a quarter of a million wristbands.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.