University of Virginia student David Roselle was an observant member of his fraternity when the organization was planning an event in August 2021.
He noticed his Delta Kappa Epsilon brothers, on the day of the occasion, frantically running around town and making multiple trips to a local store to buy enough wristbands for the event’s officially authorized attendees.
The next morning, while walking the premises of the fraternity house, Roselle was side-stepping those wristbands littered everywhere.
“OK,” Roselle began thinking to himself, “we’re spending money on these. It’s a total hassle to distribute. And then they just end up thrown on the ground. There has to be a better way to do this.”
Majoring in both computer science (through the College of Arts & Sciences) and commerce (in the McIntire School of Commerce) and playing goalie for the nationally ranked UVA lacrosse team, Roselle found time to get to work on an application that he launched in February 2022 and is now used across 40 college campuses from the University of Vermont to the University of California, San Diego, and of course at UVA.
It’s called DoorList and, among its many benefits for event planners, it eliminates the need for wristbands. Roselle estimates that, so far, the app has replaced 250,000 wristbands.
The app is designed for events of fewer than 5,000 attendees and serves as a platform for planning, organizing and access. Organizations like fraternities, sororities or other student-led groups can create an event and send out invitations through the app. Instead of wristbands or paper tickets, DoorList uses a unique QR code that’s scanned for entry. The code comes with time-based security, which prevents users from sharing screenshots with those not on the event list. This ensures event hosts that each person they put on the list will only correspond to one actual entry.
The startup company has already made both local and national waves. Roselle and Peter Layne, a fellow fourth-year student and Roselle’s minority-stake partner, won the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup last spring, securing $5,000 and additional in-kind resources to use toward their venture. In November, DoorList was featured on Yahoo Finance for being one of the “most disruptive business school startups of 2022.”
“We haven’t done a big marketing push,” Roselle said. “We haven’t poured a bunch of money into some social media campaign. We really have just let it grow organically because I think from an organization side, it saves them money and it makes it a lot easier to make events.
“And then from a user side, you have everything in one place. You don’t have to swing by and pick up a wristband. You don’t have to have five different ticketing apps. Every single event, whether it’s a paid event or a free event, Greek life or something at a restaurant – it’s all just under this one umbrella that people know how to use and they get it.”
Roselle said he built DoorList throughout the fall 2021 semester and polished the product during Christmas break.
In January 2022, he tested the product with a friend by holding fake events at his home.
“We’d scan in 10 people quickly to see if it works,” Roselle said. “It functioned perfectly, but that was much smaller than our first real event. A few days later we officially launched, and suddenly hundreds of users were scanning in. It was really trial by fire.”
Roselle and Layne used last spring for their soft launch on Grounds, rounding up feedback from a few UVA organizations and making tweaks.
“We were pleasantly surprised to see how quickly DoorList spread,” Layne said, “with the majority of organizations adopting DoorList with no prior contact. We felt that this really validated our belief that DoorList is solving a real problem and removing a lot of the hassle of hosting social events.”
Roselle credits his quick rise up the entrepreneur ranks to the knowledge he’s gained through the courses tied to McIntire’s Integrated Core Experience, a requirement for the school’s third-year students. In ICE, students gain an understanding of commerce from a variety of angles.
“You get this broad, generalist approach, which is the perfect thing to learn if you’re trying to be an entrepreneur because you need to know a little bit of everything,” he said. “You need to know some accounting things from when you have expenses. You need to know about marketing. You need to know about organizational behavior as you continue to build your team. You need to know about strategy as you think about expansion.”
This past fall, Roselle fine-tuned his skills through Chip Ransler’s entrepreneurship course in the Commerce School.
Ransler, who in 2008 co-founded the world’s largest distributed renewable energy startup, Husk Power Systems, said Roselle displays all the important qualities to thrive in the entrepreneur space.
“He has a willingness to work hard, he adapts to things, he has great technical skills and he just hustles,” said Ransler, who also teaches marketing in UVA’s Darden School of Business.
Between school and his lacrosse duties, Roselle said he finds 20 hours a week to spend on DoorList, a company that has eight employees. That commitment will ramp up after he graduates in May, moves to New York and makes DoorList his full-time gig.
He sees the app evolving in conjunction with his life.
“The goal is to grow it beyond universities,” Roselle said. “There are so many different ways for this to be used, whether it’s nightlife or small concerts or comedy clubs or philanthropy events.
“It’s kind of funny – DoorList is naturally growing to include events beyond college, right as I am graduating from college myself. College students will always be a core part of our user base and their events will stay an important offering, but at the same time there’s no reason our product can’t also be used elsewhere. I’m really excited to continue to explore that.”