Student-founded moving service, Guys And Dollies, provides free packaging, low-cost storage for campus community
Who they are
Like many first-year college students, Corey Marsden stepped foot on Purdue’s campus with vague plans for a future professional career. As a high school student in Rushville, Ind., Marsden had been advised to pursue employment in medicine, law or engineering, but none of his teachers mentioned the prospect of starting a business.
In his sophomore year, Marsden got involved with Purdue Innovations, a student organization that provides a platform and community for innovative students to explore business ideas and bring them to market. By networking through this group, Marsden and his best friend from high school, Keith Hoeing, connected with two Indiana University students who wanted to expand their business venture to Purdue.
What they're doing
Guys And Dollies is a company that provides free packing materials in conjunction with free pick-up and delivery, as well as low-cost options for campus residents who wish to store or ship their belongings between semesters or while they’re abroad. Revenues come from storage, with prices that range from $25 to store a 4-cubic-foot box for the summer to $40 for an extra large trunk. Because the IU founders already had overcome many of the inevitable hiccups most startups encounter, they were able to pass on their experience and best practices to Marsden and Hoeing, who initially were running the Purdue franchise without employees. The IU founders even helped them find an appropriate warehouse to store the items and allocated profits from their Bloomington operation to get the Purdue team started. They continue to serve as business mentors today.
Though the Purdue startup’s profit margin was minimal at first, the low-cost and free packaging incentives helped the newcomers grow their customer base, store more boxes and earn more money. In the first year, Marsden and Hoeing personally moved more than 100 people and sometimes operated on as little as one hour of sleep per night to meet their various commitments. But because peak moving time occurs at the start and end of each semester, the Purdue students found themselves struggling to balance finals with the demands of their business. It was time to expand.
How they got there
One of the biggest challenges Marsden faced was finding a large base of workers whom he could trust to handle cash, lift heavy objects and handle customers’ belongings with care. That’s where his business partner fit perfectly. As a member of Farmhouse Fraternity, Hoeing had access to a large network of capable workers, some of whom had experience driving large trucks.
Marsden and Hoeing hired 30-40 Farmhouse brothers and other Purdue students and paid each a minimum of $10 per hour, with wages increasing based on experience. Now that both students have graduated, they’re leaving the heavy lifting to their employees, and their profit margin is growing. They hope eventually to take their low-cost, customer-friendly business model to other college markets.
"Just pull the trigger. You have the rest of your life to spend on the daily grind, so pick an idea that you’re passionate about and pursue your dreams," Marsden says. "If you can tackle three high level action items each day, and not get caught up in the day to day processes that need to be delegated, your business will progress. Make sure you partner with people who are equally passionate so they can push you forward when your motivation is low and you hit the inevitable roadblocks of a startup."