Tuesday, April 17, 2007

College Boxes On The Move @ W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio...

On Sunday April 15, 2007
R2C2H2 Tha Artivist had the honor and privilege of interviewing fellow Wash U. Alumni who made good on Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio...Meet Scott Neuberger and Josh Kowitt the founders of College Boxes, one of the fastest growing moving and storage companies in North America...These bright and gifted young men were named two of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 by Inc. Magazine...Please join us for this W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio exclusive as they tell us the essential ingredients to their recipe for business success!!!

Please Click On The Link To Listen To One Hour Long Interview:

*Following Article Appears Courtesy Of Washington University in St. Louis Magazine*

Building on 'One Box at a Time'

Not so long ago, Scott Neuberger and Josh Kowitt were schlepping boxes and refrigerators into and out of dorm rooms as WU undergrads.

Today, the two rank among Inc. magazine's "30 under 30: America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs." Their company, Collegeboxes, ships and stores college students' belongings, and services and rents dorm-room appliances. It's the largest such firm in the country and is sustaining accelerated growth.

"In the next three years, we're going to grab as many campuses and customers as possible," says Neuberger, who majored in finance at the Olin School of Business.

The concept is straightforward: The Watertown, Massachusetts, company offers summer storage services for students on 36 college campuses. At 50 schools, they also provide appliance rentals, and--in a small piece of the business that Neuberger says likely will overtake storage sales in the near future--they provide shipping services between home and school through an arrangement with UPS.

Kowitt, who majored in political science in Arts & Sciences, is 24 and vice president and director of business development. Neuberger, 25, is CEO. The two have studied every campus in the country, identifying 150 schools with the most market potential.

"We aim to be at 100 schools in two years," Neuberger says, adding that franchising at another 400 is a possibility.

To be the exclusive vendor for moving students' belongings, Collegeboxes pays each college a commission. Then it hires local students to run on-campus marketing programs. The firm arranges with moving companies familiar with each territory to do the on-campus work. Customers pay a per-item fee.

The company is growing fast. Neuberger and Kowitt are embracing technology to manage simultaneous moves at multiple locations—from a GPS system to track trucks in the field to text messages that alert customers to pickup times.

Better customer service is the main reason they have invested in the new technology, says Kowitt, who recalls more than once sweating in his desk chair while a frantic parent screamed at him over the phone. "Not until a mother is crying to you about her kid's belongings do you know customer service."

Collegeboxes employs 10 full-time staff, plus 15 part-timers in the call center. Neuberger expects to add five full-time and five to 10 part-time positions this year.

As students at Washington University, the two started separate operations—Neuberger's was University Trucking, and Kowitt ran ResFridge—then merged when they realized the time and cost efficiencies of working together.

It was in the Olin School's entrepreneurship class—the Hatchery, taught by Ken Harrington—that Collegeboxes got its start. Students wrote business plans and pitched them, often successfully, to investors. (The Hatchery is now part of the University-wide Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which Harrington directs.)

"I think the School has done a great job fostering entrepreneurship," Neuberger says. "We would not be as far along as we are if we hadn't started this in college. We just learned how to execute a business."

Adds Kowitt: "What a great arena to make mistakes. Really every issue I see now at Collegeboxes I dealt with on a smaller level at Washington U."

The decisions they make now are bigger and more costly. But for all the stress of running a successful business, they say, it's still one box at a time—something both acknowledge when things get harried.

--Sally Parker

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