October 3, 2007
By: Sarah Pierce
Sure, there are plenty of college students that charge $5 for a cup at a keg party. Rarer are the students that see opportunities in their collegiate surroundings and start successful businesses aimed at serving other co-eds.
From the educational to the entertaining, these three companies started by twentysomethings are making it by "real world" standards. Read on to find out what inspired them and whether being a student has been a burden or an asset to their growing ventures.
Who: Joe Leary, 21; Peter Handy, 21; and Dan Abrahamsen, 22
What: Moving and storage company aimed at fellow college students
Year Started: 2005
Moving On Up: It was in the back of a dirty U-Haul truck where inspiration struck Joe Leary and Peter Handy. Handy had enlisted the help of Leary and a few other friends to help him move his belongings at the end of his freshman year. They found few options for storing their belongings over summer break and instantly knew they could cash in on helping other students facing the same problem every year.
"We were pretty blown away by the demand that took place our first year," says Handy, who recalls the excitement of seeing the orders pour in slowly turn to fear. "We had to basically close the order process down on the website because we had such high demand. We wanted to make sure we could serve our customers the best we could our very first year."
To prepare for the next year, they hired professional moving companies and launched a new backend of the website to provide better customer service. It was a smart move that helped push their first year's sales of $50,000 close to $200,000 the following year.
Successful Students: According to the trio, being full-time students has actually made it easier for them to run their business.
"Probably the most advantageous aspect of being a student entrepreneur has been being here among our own customers," says Leary. Most students don't know he owns the company, so he's able to get honest feedback from them about what they like and what needs to be changed.
"We get a lot of support from the university, which is very helpful," adds Handy. BoxMyDorm is now the official moving and storage company for the student body at Penn State and serves a select number of other college campuses. But the box doesn't stop there.
"We have a very aggressive growth plan," says Handy. "You'll see us next year in a lot of new places across the country."