Roughly 50 million Americans are estimated to move at some point this year, and 75 percent of them are do-it-yourselfers, by U-Haul measures. Aside from pestering all your friends and family to come help you load all your stuff or spending thousands on a moving company the next time you need help in the heavy lifting, there haven’t been a lot of options.
College students tend to be the most transient population. They’re also young, healthy and at their strongest physically. This gave Bellhops founder Cameron Doody an idea. Put them to work.
There are a lot of moving companies out there that purport to employ students. Just do a Google search and you’ll see a dozen listings with “Student” in the name. But most of these are professional operations that will give you an estimate on the cost after filling out a form and talking to a sales person. Bellhops is an on-demand moving help platform that currently employs over 10,000 college students in 100 cities across the U.S. for $40 an hour.
Doody started the company with $1.8 million in seed in 2013 and quickly began to roll out the service from headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was surprised to find the tech community hasn’t picked up on this startup until now. It’s currently not available in New York City or San Francisco, both major tech hubs. Instead, Doody chose to expand in mostly college towns rather than do the traditional test in big cities.
We only caught wind of Bellhops here at TechCrunch when our co-editor Alexia Tsotsis needed some help moving from one apartment to another. It was the same typical help most people need. A little heavy lifting at an affordable price. Even though the service isn’t actually available for booking in S.F., Doody offered some one-off help.
“I think it’s safe to say people don’t want to move themselves,” explained Doody. “They’re just price conscious and have needs that are manageable enough to forego the hassle and cost of traditional moving companies. We’re the answer for those people.”
Bellhops has now raised $6 million in Series A from Binary Capital. The fund launched in July with $125 million in its coffers. Bellhops is Binary’s first investment.
Other participants in the round include Lowercase Capital, Scott Banister, Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Techstars‘ Bullet Time Ventures, Haroon Mokhtarzada, Kal Raman and Nas.
Bellhops’ workforce is made up real college students. Doody and his team recruit them from organizations like varsity sports teams and ROTC. “People trust a college student to move their stuff. They think of them as their own kid,” Doody said about why his model works. “Our Bellhops have bigger aspirations than moving and they take pride in proving that, which makes for a very enjoyable customer experience.”
The service isn’t going to hit San Francisco until spring of next year. Doody says that’s a timing thing and has to do with the college student recruitment cycle. But it’s coming.