UCF student's roommate search goes viral
It’s probably best not to mention fish around Alfredo Salkeld. His roommate used to grill it in their small, shared bedroom in the Libra dorms.
“One of my past roommates cooked fish on a George Foreman grill like it was totally normal,” Salkeld said. “He was always grilling salmon in this tiny room.”
This created an aroma in the atmosphere that was less than desirable. Later on in his UCF career, he moved to a house in Downtown Orlando where his roommate was “awesome.” When she told him she was moving out, he realized he was going to have to re-enter the world of roommate finding.
“Craigslist and Facebook are the worst,” Salkeld said about the two websites people typically use to find roommates.
So he launched an advertising campaign, and the product that he was trying to market was himself.
“All day my mind is trying to find creative solutions to business problems,” said Salkeld, who currently works as a copywriter at an Orlando advertising agency. “I thought that I could turn it into a fun project.”
He decided to create a website and fliers to distribute around town. Salkeld recruited his good friend Keegan Sanford, who agreed to do all the illustrations.
“From an illustration standpoint it didn’t take very long. The whole process took about two weeks,” Sanford said.
And thus, ifwewereroommates.com was born. After using Sanford’s illustrations and writing the copy, Salkeld created fliers that he distributed to various areas around town. The fliers highlighted the ways that he would be an excellent roommate. He posted one flier that said “I’d fill the Brita” on a water fountain and a flier that said “I’d take out the trash when its full” on a garbage can. Every flier included a link to Salkeld’s website at the bottom.
Salkeld then took to Reddit to get the word out.
“I posted the fliers to Reddit, and it kind of blew up and made it to the front page,” he said.
Soon, his website started to get flooded with applications.
Sanford thought that Salkeld had a great idea.
“I was happy to see how viral it went, but I was by no means surprised,” Sanford said.
Salkeld received some very unique applications.
“One guy reached out from Egypt,” Salkeld said. “Another was a 60-year-old woman who said, ‘I’m happily married, but I would still want to be your roommate.’”
Why does Salkeld think that the campaign went viral?
“I think why it became popular and why people like the site is because it’s so relatable”, he said. “When you look to find a roommate, you just have to hope for the best.”
Salkeld’s approach has captured the attention of the UCF community, such as Kourtney Dinkins at the Blackstone Launchpad. Dinkins, the operations manager at the Launchpad, encourages students to be creative and innovative in achieving their goals.
“Students at UCF are very innovative,” she said. “Entrepreneurship is a viable career path after gradation.”
However, Salkeld was not trying to profit off the website. He was just trying to find a roommate. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.
“The same day it blew up on Reddit I found my future roommate,” Salkeld said.
The homepage of his website indicates that the search is over, and he is no longer accepting roommate applications. However, he still encourages people to send him funny things.
Now that Salkeld has created a viral roommate-finding campaign, he has some surprising advice for people looking for a roommate.
“I would never do this again,” he said, laughing. “I think the best thing to do is reach out to people within your social circle.”
Jillian James is a digital producer at the Central Florida Future. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org