Chris and I started “Student Movers Service”, now known as Undergrads Moving, while in college at Clemson University. We found our first three customers after posting an ad on Craigslist, and after getting some initial hits, we did our research and found that people needed a reliable moving company and liked supporting local college students. While we had zero moving experience, Chris and I were high school wrestlers and found picking up furniture to be a cakewalk for us and a fun break from classes. It felt like getting paid to workout and solve puzzles as you lift furniture and Tetris it into a truck.
The Undergrads LLC idea was a lightbulb moment in 2019, and the fact that both the name and the URL were available was a driving factor to our rebrand. We have always believed the brand is just as important as the platform, and having the Undergrads brand felt like the missing piece to the puzzle. When it comes to finances, we have not raised any money nor needed to raise any money. We have been cash flow positive since inception, and have reinvested all of our earnings to date to help further grow the company. We have strategically put off raising capital as long as possible and see ourselves actively seeking investment at the end of Q3 2020.
A common misconception is that we only move students. Students actually only make up about 1% of our moves, the rest are customers who need help moving their home. We service full residential moves for anyone who is living within about an hour or so of college towns throughout South Carolina. We are gradually becoming one of the more popular moving companies in college towns such as Columbia, SC, and Greenville, SC. Us and our movers have collectively experienced many funny stories. We have been asked if we can move a live cow into a truck bed before. That was a weird one, and we didn’t even attempt to do it, but most of the time you show up and the customers have the COOLEST backstory. It’s a great learning experience for our students. Everyone is different and unique.
Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?
Chris and I were friends in college at Clemson University. We were both studying industrial engineering at the time.In order to fund our student movers company, we took full time jobs that funded our normal lives and worked a minimum of 20 hours a week on Undergrads either at night or before work in the morning. We reinvested every dollar the company earned to grow organically, and when it came to hiring from across the country, we had to trust our gut. We recruited people who we knew were going to be hard workers and take pride in what they do. After growing from Clemson, we started to recruit movers in Greenville, SC and then movers in Columbia, SC to keep up with demand and serve our clients at the same quality that Chris and I expected.
Chris and I had never run any company before, but working separate jobs while initially starting Undergrads Moving was very beneficial for us. Having prior work experience is key to helping get things off the ground smoother. We were able to have some runway to work out any kinks in the business strategy and execution. After a few years, we went all in. The largest hurdle that we had to get over was explaining our business in a way that could be easily understood. At first, people didn’t fully get that we were student movers without trucks who would move anyone, not just students. It was frustrating at first because it seemed so simple to us but we didn’t see how someone from the outside looking in would not initially get that. Once we readdressed how we explain what we do, the rest was history and people loved it.
What have you learned?
We have learned a lot since we started our moving company. First, it's important to acknowledge that something is always going to go wrong when starting a company. If you take responsibility and find a solution then most things can be fixed, and it'll motivate you to not let it happen next time. We have also learned the importance of commitment to get your business off the ground and functional. Getting an idea started is easy; scaling that idea is the hard part. It takes 10x the amount of effort you think it would to get something scaled properly.
Also, take the time to get an internship/full-time job and build your business on the side until you are ready to go full time. I learned so much working at EY’s Corporate Venturing group, The Foundry, that had I started full-time on Undergrads right out of college, I would have run the company into the ground. With slowly starting our company and gradually introducing more cities, we have experienced 300% year-over-year growth, driving our sales through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
We utilize Slack, Stripe, and Google’s suite of online applications while running our business. They help streamline our entire company. If you get really proficient with Google’s apps and how different API integrations work, you can piece together some robust project management software from scratch.
What are your favourite books and podcasts?
My favorite books are The Power of Habit and To Engineer is Human. My favorite podcasts are How I Made This, It’s Been a Minute, and This American Life.
What are your next steps for Undergrads LLC?
Our next steps include improving our app and marketing strategies. We are also releasing a new customer booking flow and improved machine learning algorithm to better predict move times. We predict this will drive conversion even more. We can’t quite say yet, but we have some other big releases coming soon that we have been working on for about a year. Hopefully in five years, we will become a national brand, spreading to every college campus within an hour of our operating locations. We are aiming to be in about 75 cities by the five year mark. We have tripled revenue YoY since inception, and are up 450% from 2019-2020 YTD. We are proud of the progress we have made from being one of the smaller moving companies in Clemson, SC to where we are now. We want to continue making a positive impact on students’ lives, helping support the students who need to work to pursue their college degrees. To further that mission, we don’t plan on selling our company anytime soon.