By Bethany Broderick
Everyone dreads it. Taxes, death, and moving. Even a small move from one apartment to another requires you to cash in every favor with people who have a truck, muscles, or both. Or if your friends (and distant acquaintances) are too busy to lend a hand, you’re forced to overpay a moving company that’s probably going to break your coffee table. It’s a lose-lose situation. Until now.
Two Harbert College of Business graduates – Cameron Doody (2009, supply chain management) and Stephen Vlahos (2008, marketing) – co-founded Bellhops Moving in 2013, an innovative solution to small and medium scale moving. Originally targeting college students, Bellhops is an online platform that connects local, able-bodied college students with people and businesses who need help moving for a reasonable price. Bellhops is headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., has more than 120 locations in coast-to-coast.
Doody and Vlahos conceptualized Bellhops while at Auburn, noticing the need for inexpensive, flexible small-scale movers for college students.
“When I was at Auburn, being physically capable of moving a couch puts you in the hot seat about 15 times a year,” Doody said. “Bellhops is the perfect answer between begging friends and hiring movers.”
As they grew their business to other college towns, they soon realized their moving solutions were needed by more than just college students. Currently, although they move thousands of college students every semester, 90 percent of their business comes from non-student bookings.
One strength of the company is how easy it is to book and connect with your “bellhop.” Doody and Vlahos have focused on building a world-class tech platform, using an automated system to run operations. You can book a bellhop right now with a few taps on your smartphone.
“Technology allows us to automate and streamline operations, provide ridiculous customer service, make data-driven decisions, scale quickly, and stay relevant to the ever-growing desires of consumers wanting things ‘right now,’” Doody said.
As their technology has grown, so has their team. Bellhops has increased from three people to more than 110 in 21/2 years. Additionally, Bellhops has secured support from venture capitalists like Binary Capital and the rapper Nas. Doody attributes their fast success to their impressive execution.
Bellhops Moving is just one example of young Harbert entrepreneurs who are starting their own successful businesses. Doody believes his education prepared him to take on the challenge of a startup and encourages other Auburn students to step out and pursue their business ideas and passions.
“It will never make more sense to start a company than right now. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and it will never be like that again,” Doody advises. “Deciding to start a company in your early 20s is hard enough–just imagine trying to justify starting a company in your late 20s when you have a mortgage, a couple kids and a bunch of people who think you’re crazy leaving behind that cush job of yours for a startup.”
You can learn more about Bellhops Moving (and book them to pick up your latest purchase from Craigslist) on their website: getbellhops.com