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November 1, 2005

The Uncommon Interview: Geoff Domoracki

Geoff Domoracki, a third-year in the College and philosophy concentrator, managed to pull himself away from the books for long enough to explore his business side. The Maroon chatted with this young entrepreneur.

CM: I understand that in your time as a student at the U of C you have created three companies. What are they and how successful have each of them been?

GD: My first company was managed, not founded, by me, and that was Openhive.com. I actually joined the team by accidentally asking their programmer to create a competing piece of software. Essentially, you create a profile Facebook-style, you log in your collection of books, movies, and music, and your friends and campus search our 10,000-item library and request to borrow your items. It was enjoyable—not terribly lucrative—but it inspired me to create RankQ.com, which I will discuss later.

The next venture was my bike store, HydeParkBikes.com. You order a used bike online and we deliver it. It was quite successful; we sold 30 bikes in 10 days. It was also an enjoyable summer project, since cycling is one of my passions.

But the company which I want to lay the most focus on, one which launches in the next week and one which has been in the works for five months, is RankQ.com. Because the most motivating element in Openhive.com was the book and DVD rankings—an online listing of who had logged the most items—I decided to take the idea a step further. RankQ.com takes in all important information about your life—what sports you play, your bench press, your standardized test scores, languages you speak, crazy stunts you have done, et.—converts it into a rating, and ranks you alongside your friends, campus, and nation. You rate others, call them liars, and fight for your place. It is as fun and twisted as it sounds. I hope it will be a national epidemic.

Lastly, some friends and I are launching Agavian.com, the network hub of an entire array of profile-based community sites (like Facebook). The scope is dangerously large, but we believe it will become a Fortune 500 company in record time.

Funny, though, eight months ago, I wanted to be a philosophy professor. This just goes to show that philosophy produces the real businessmen.

CM: What got you interested in starting so many companies? How did you become such an entrepreneur?

GD: I became interested in starting companies because of my hatred of employment and my obsession over ideas. Plus, I am impatient, I cannot join things other people start, and I always need to be building something. What I love about entrepreneurship is that creation never stops; there are no real walls or scheduled hours, you just have to be more creative, push harder. But more than anything, Dr. Hammond from Jurassic Park has inspired me to become an entrepreneur, because, like him, I wish to own a dinosaur island.

CM: It seems like you’re involved in a lot of varied businesses. How did you come up with all these different ideas for companies? Which of them have actually taken shape as real companies, and which were too idealistic to really work?

GD: I used to stay up until 4 a.m. writing scripts for movies—now I stay up plotting ventures. I think my inspiration was better than my execution; people around me tended to get annoyed by my new idea every two days. But now that a few are materializing, I am finding more support.

My successful ventures include HydeParkBikes.com, Openhive.com, and (hopefully) RankQ.com. Ideas that never got off the ground include The Dream Company, Body Ball (imagine soccer with a 10-foot ball), and Clayhab (Claymation Moby Dick). But I find that creating a company is easier than creating a movie or a sport, since it funds itself.

CM: How do you balance your involvement in all of your companies with being a student at the U of C? Are you involved in campus extracurriculars, as well? Have you considered taking time off from school to be able to devote all of your time to one or all of your companies?

GD: I have a feeling that my involvement in and devotion to academics has seen better days, but I am still very passionate about philosophy. I have read too much Nietzsche for my own good.

As far as extracurriculars go, I have always done my own thing. My friends and I have our own unofficial movie club. We have produced such unseen films as Hamlet: The Musical and American Wonka (American Psycho meets Willy Wonka). I sing five pieces in Hamlet: The Musical, and the movie ends with a game of tennis played with grenades. Besides that, I am an avid bicyclist, and I spent the summer cycling from Austria to France, and down Italy.

None of my ventures have made such time demands that I would need to leave school. I hope to change that.

CM: Do you have ideas for other companies that you wish to start?

GD: Yes, definitely. Many of these will be incorporated into the Agavian Network. First, a Facebook-like, campus-based Truth or Dare website, where you prove your accomplishments with photos. Second, an internet hub for antiques and art collectors, to organize the market of prestigious objects. Third, and by far my most promising idea, Baby Facebook. It is the Facebook for kindergarteners, with such hard-hitting questions as when you have nap time, what is your favorite juice box, and a gallery to upload your finger paintings. I believe the kindergartener demographic is an entirely untapped market.