My high school required that before seniors graduate, they must work full time for a company unpaid for four weeks. While most students would work at their parent’s doctor’s office or doing display design for a boutique, I cold emailed roominate, a company that makes wired construction toys for girls to spark their interest in STEM. Much to my surprise, they said I could work for them for four weeks. They were so impressed with my work I was able to work with them for two summers after that and part time during the school year.
Roominate is the best professional experience I’ve had in my life. I got to work closely with both co-founders Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen. I learned the value of good mentorship and the joy of doing work you absolutely love. Working at roominate was what first inspired me to pursue both mechanical engineering and product design. I worked for them until they were acquired by Patch Products in January of 2016.
June of my first summer at roominate, I was trusted with a company secret I wasn’t allowed to share with anyone. I was one of five employees who knew that roominate would be appearing on ABC Family’s Hit Show Shark Tank for their Fall 2014 season. I did research on each Shark so they could cater their pitch to the Sharks’ interests. I worked with Alice and Bettina to create customized roominate kits for each shark. I’m particularly proud of Mr. Wonderful’s Ice Cream Shop. This was my first opportunity to see the power of targeted marketing in action.
Roominate ultimately earned $500,000 at a $10 million valuation from Marc Cuban. Their sales also skyrocketed after their appearance.
You can watch their original pitch here and their update here.
One of my first assignments at roominate was to write, film, and edit a series of educational videos to teach 3-7 year olds about circuits and electricity. I also made instructional videos for assembling roominate kits. These videos have accrued over 18,000 views on youtube and have been featured on amazon and in stores across the country. The first video I ever made for roominate is featured below. You can watch the rest of them here.
Roominate R&D ongoingly explored engineering concepts like motors, fluid dynamis, pulleys, and gears at the roominate scale. Some of these successful prottypes eventually became products, like the RV pictured. This was one of my favorite parts; it was like a mini project every day.
In the process of generating new SKUs, it would become clear that new parts were required for the success of a new product. There's a balance in designing parts that are versatile enough to promote open ended play that are also functional enough to operate in specific engineering applications. I would CAD, 3D print, play test, and iterate on these designs.
Special Thanks to Alice Brooks, Bettina Chen, and Matt Carvell