Entrepreneur adds TEDxUF talk to dance card

By day, Rob Castellucci leads one of the most innovative ventures to ever address university student housing.

By night, he immerses himself in the Gainesville Salsa dancing scene that he’s helped cultivate.

Whether it’s in his personal or professional life, Castellucci’s entrepreneurial passion shines through. He will be sharing his unique story as a guest speaker at TEDxUF, which takes place Saturday at the Curtis M Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Watch Rob’s TEDxUF talk on YouTube.

For Castellucci, 30, a balanced life is a happy life. To balance the pressures and responsibilities as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RoomSync, a roommate matching software service aligned with Facebook, Castellucci finds relief in Salsa dancing.

Rob Castellucci

RoomSync Co-Founder and CEO Rob Castellucci.

Castellucci (BSBA ’07, MSE ’08) took up Salsa dancing in 2009 on the recommendation of some friends. He became so passionate about Salsa that he and two friends co-founded The Gator Salsa Club, which offers free lessons to interested dancers at J. Wayne Reitz Union.

“I definitely was not expecting to become as obsessed with it,” Castellucci said.

Castellucci said Salsa dancing is his escape from personal and professional hassles. When dancing, the focus is singular, concentrating only on the rhythmic arm, shoulder and hip movements the dance is famous for.

“It’s my therapy,” Castellucci said.

Fortunately, the therapy has been voluntary as RoomSync continues to grow in popularity. More than 50 universities, including the University of Florida, are using RoomSync to match roommates.

At UF, RoomSync helped reduce the number of reported roommate conflicts 67 percent, and 97 percent of surveyed UF students said their roommates became their “best friends…or had a mutually-respectful relationship.”

Although Castellucci savors RoomSync’s growth and success, he also recalls its humble beginnings.

“When we started this thing, we thought it made sense,” Castellucci said. “But it took a while to convince others. I don’t think we made a sale in the first two years. It was definitely a lesson in persistence.”

To help other aspiring entrepreneurs on their journeys, Castellucci has made it a priority to share his knowledge and experiences. He’s a frequent guest in the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s Speaker Series, and a guest speaker for Wells Fargo Faculty Fellow Bill Rossi’s entrepreneurship classes. Although these appearances are designed for the students’ benefit, Castellucci said he gets as much out of it, and sometimes more, than the budding entrepreneurs.

“It’s not just a one-way street; the conversation is two ways,” Castellucci said. “I like to teach, but I also like connecting with people. I get a lot of value out of it.”

Castellucci is hoping attendees get the same kind of value from his presentation. Castellucci said he’s been an admirer of TED talks for years, and is thrilled that TEDxUF has emerged as one of the Southwest’s premier entrepreneurial events.

“TED events have an amazing ability to transfer knowledge,” Castellucci said. “We have a community of amazing people in Gainesville who can benefit from it. You can have someone who’s world class in biochemistry combine with an artist and make something great. That cross-pollination is exciting.”