I typically open up my monologue with setting some tension or to attempt to provoke how a grand idea might come together in the upcoming audio.
I don’t have that today.
What I have is a young entrepreneur that impressed me with his story, branding, and how he’s approaching the business of…college movers. I know you normally tune in for the SaaS powered wins or the WordPress unicorns, but trust me when I tell you, Sam Chason, founder of Storage Scholars, is bringing the heat.
I’ll admit, his story was so good, that I almost didn’t believe him. I fully expected to decline the interview headed into our pre-interview. Luckily that wasn’t the case, and now I’ll be rooting for him from the sidelines hoping he can turn this business into a massive success.
By the way, we do talk WordPress/WooCommerce and the platforms he’s tried in the past — we’re still getting our hands dirty here.
If you enjoy the episode and want to buy me a virtual coffee in support, go to buymeacofee.com/mattreport and show your support for the show.
[00:00:00] Sam: Storage scholars is a door to door, white glove service for college students. So basically the way that the service works it’s generally for out-of-state or international studies.
[00:00:09] I was from New York. I went to a school called wake forest, North Carolina, and I had two international hallmates, one from China, one from Ethiopia, and I would stereotypically see them bring over two large suitcases overseas. They’d bought the rest of the stuff that they needed at target bed bath and beyond, et cetera.
[00:00:24] And there was just no way they were going to ship back their bedding or school supplies back to China. Right. So I thought, had to be a better way type deal. So the way the service works now is students receive boxes and packing supplies that we prefer finalists. They packed up their stuff. They snap a couple photos of the items.
[00:00:39] They’re looking at store add any extra insurance, lock up their room and go home. And then we generally have contracts with these universities. We get key access from the dorms. We use students on those campuses to do a contact us, move out about a 24 to 72 hours after campus closes, store it for the summer, however long they need to store it for and then have it ready and waiting in their new room pre delivered when they arrived back on campus.
[00:01:01] So that’s some storage scholars in a nutshell.
[00:01:03] Matt: Yeah. When I first, before. You and I chatted. I was like, okay, moving. Like I say, moving company. And in my, in my head, I’m like, big industry makes sense. But then when we chatted and you’re like, yeah, but people don’t need to bring all their stuff back.
[00:01:17] They’re gone for whatever a month, 45 days, a half semester or whatever the thing is. Ship, all this stuff back. And I was like, wow, this is really interesting. You mentioned that there were some competitors out there kind of doing this same thing, but just kind of half asking it. Right. It was just a little bit of, one thing, a little bit of the other, not the full, the full compliment.
[00:01:38] What are you doing better than the
[00:01:39] Sam: current. Well, yeah, definitely shout out Nick hubris, sweaty start up. He was one of the first people I met doing this up at Cornell and that’s kinda how I ended up on Twitter and probably my view as well. He, he sold a similar business up in the Northeast, so we were more so in the Southeast, we actually just recently signed a contract with a school in Pennsylvania a couple of days ago.
[00:01:56] So making an expansion there watch out during removers, but a lot of it has to do with not only the university partnerships. So we’re doing everything by the school’s books. There’s some others kind of, Companies out there that will just farm emails blast to a school and just figure they can get 30, 40, 50 customers per school and say that they operate at 80 a hundred institutions across the country.
[00:02:16] We’re more about building deep in Beth’s in-depth relationships with those schools. And not only with the administration, but then also. Really fostering entrepreneurship on these campuses and kind of in two to three students, generally sophomores, they have some long longevity and bring these kids on board.
[00:02:31] Having them shadow us, they can learn really important, like marketing operations, entrepreneurial type skills in school and ideally pay the wafers their way through college, kind of the same way that I
[00:02:40] Matt: did. Yeah. So it’s like, it’s I don’t, these are my words. You tell me paid internship. Is that how it.
[00:02:47] Sam: That’s funny. You say that that’s actually quote unquote what I just put on our handshake profile. Some of these schools, cause it was not getting accepted before as more of like a high paying job. I figured not only is that what’s more appealing to a college student nowadays. They want something for their resume, but also something they can make money on it, but it’s also kind of the way we were able to get it out of these universities and getting on those job boards in the shop postings.
[00:03:07] But, but it’s very valid to,
[00:03:08] Matt: so to my dedicated audience, so. Of what Sam just said is probably clicking to you. Why? Sam is here generally, I’m interviewing somebody who has a digital product, a digital service and agency software as a service. We’re going to get to that in a moment, but I really love the, because again, people who listen to this know that I’m a huge proponent of entrepreneurship, but learning the nuts and bolts of it, rolling up the sleeves and getting to work.
[00:03:33] It’s a fantastic model. So I applaud you for like having this platform for people to. Really figure things out. I don’t want to say the hard way, but like, you’re getting them a job. They’re learning all of this stuff. Have you been able to measure that? I know it’s kind of early days for you, but how have you measured the success of people actually learning the business side of things, even if they’re not sticking with you, for years as their end, is there anything like that, that you have a feedback loop?
[00:03:59] Sam: Yeah. I mean myself. I The reason why I started this business was to pay my way through school. I did it more out of necessity. But my business partner, actually, he was a year younger than me. He’s across the room over here. He’s probably got his headphones in, but he was a biochemistry major coming to school, like 4.0 student, like probably could have gone to Stanford med.
[00:04:16] But really got the itch, got the bug working with. And decided about halfway through his junior year to tell his whole family, Hey, I’m putting my medical career on hold. I really want to actually make, not necessarily to make a difference, be able to actually do things with my, with do things with my time, like immediately, as opposed to going to medical school residency and not be able to actually have a career until 10, 12 years after school.
[00:04:36] So he was probably like the first one. And then. As we went out and started hiring these co-founders, I’m going to had kids that were sophomores, juniors, seniors, and they graduated and they all wanted to had three of them wanted to then work full-time afterwards. We ended up doing that. He ended up running like a residential, commercial moving company that we had for a little while.
[00:04:52] Other ones have then worked for a little bit and then gone out and worked for companies like at JP Morgan. And truly, I think the biggest thing about this is a lot of times people will have things on the resume. And, but they don’t necessarily have the ability to talk about it. Like, Hey, I worked at, I intern at UI Parthenon.
[00:05:07] That’s been amazing, but like, what did you actually do at Eli Parthenon? Right. And when they work at storage scholars, they have such a breadth of actually what they did. They went from they’re calling the customers. They’re actually meeting the customers. They’re executing tons of marketing strategies are actually learning sales experience directly from us.
[00:05:25] Full-scale entrepreneurship and we’re taking all the tools that we’ve had found successful on campuses in the past, give them that playbook, but then also giving them pretty much unlimited budget to then do whatever they feel is best on their campus. And they feel really empowered. That’s really where we found most of our success.
[00:05:40] Matt: That’s awesome stuff. A listener. You might hear some noise in the background. Sam is sitting in his common area of his apartment building, but I’m happy to report if you’re watching the show on, on YouTube, YouTube, youtube.com/uh, the Matt report. Sam has a professional microphone in front of him. Thanks to thanks to me, urging him to get one, because he’ll be doing a round of podcasts and you’ll realize how good it is for his business and the marketing side.
[00:06:02] In our pre-interview you mentioned Excel. I want to talk about the software side of it, and then we’ll talk about more of like that marketing and branding stuff. Cause I think your, your branding’s on point and I want to learn a little bit more. How you got to that point, why you realize that’s important, but in our pre-interview you mentioned that your brother helped build some of the software.
[00:06:21] Of the business. A lot of my listeners are into that and to the software side, how they’re making things click. Is there a certain tech stack that you can talk about that you’re using to build the inner inner workings of the business or even the public facing one? Are you using WordPress for the website?
[00:06:38] Sam: Stuff like that? I guess I’ll start with the part that I’m more knowledgeable, but the front end was at one point it was WooCommerce when it first, first. Went to Squarespace. And then actually I’m probably about 80% done with migrating over to a web flow. Sorry, escaped my mind for a second. So the,
[00:06:58] Matt: that you for leaving woo commerce.
[00:07:00] And then, then now you’re kind of, okay, he’s going back to Webflow. So at least it’s something that’s.
[00:07:04] Sam: Yeah, so more so from the aesthetic design aspect, we go into web flow mean not, we were kind of reaching our capabilities a lot more of like block tacks and block images on Squarespace. And I just wasn’t able to kind of take it where I want it to go in terms of the branding.
[00:07:17] But then the backend is, has gone through. A ton of different iterations. A lot of it had to do with, we had one business model and then you get key access from the universities. You go to a different business model, then you have COVID and you have to start doing like shipping packages. And my five brothers listened to this.
[00:07:33] He definitely was a little frustrated. His, his, his answer was always, yes. Yes, we could do that, but w I don’t think we really understood exactly what yes, Matt and all the work that went into that. And we have, I think 287 custom fields for each associated account for different like yes-no formulas and stuff like that, too.
[00:07:50] But it’s, it’s basically built mostly on PHP angler a and my SQL eight in terms of the, kind of the front end of the database, and then AWS as well. So we’re actually, he’s stepping in. He’s coming more of like a CTO role. And we’re bringing in kind of like a development team. So we have two full-time developers, as well as somebody who’s kind of managing them as well.
[00:08:10] And they should be coming on board in the next couple of weeks. It will be the real test of all the feedback we’ve gotten is that he has really clean code. And I really hope that to be true, but
[00:08:18] Matt: if not, why not? Brother’s not getting anything for Christmas. Coming
[00:08:21] Sam: now. He’s, he’s, he’s an incredible mind.
[00:08:23] So I would assume all of that stuff is.
[00:08:25] Matt: I, I want to talk about this software segment for a little bit here. When you left WooCommerce, what were your reasons? You’re not in an uncommon, a lot of people listening to this too. There’s a segment who are agency owners, freelancers. They talked a lot of folks who hop through different CMSs.
[00:08:40] They hear a bunch of different things. You’re not in an uncommon seat to be making these jokes. But what was it for you to leave WooCommerce to begin with?
[00:08:47] Sam: Yeah, you have to appreciate that. I was 18 and I was better than my first ever website. And I just had my brother at the time because he was the only like technical person.
[00:08:54] I knew, Hey, like what should we build the website on? He kind of helped me build the WooCommerce website to begin with. And then I had a friend that was working for kind of a different startup. It was more, it was a food and Bev startups with a little more of a prettier interface. He’s like, you gotta use Squarespace.
[00:09:07] You gotta start using canvas. This is mind blowing to me like, oh, I can actually just drag and drop and make this as opposed to relying on my brother to actually go in and design something where he was extremely technically sound. But aesthetically is probably is more of a secondary. So that was more so just the ability for me to do it myself.
[00:09:23] But I’m sure now, five, six years later will commerce would, it would have been more of a drag and drop. It just was a little more intimidating at the time. Yeah, for
[00:09:30] Matt: sure. For sure. Is the software side without revealing the secret sauce. Is that a secret sauce for you over your competition?
[00:09:39] Like what technologies or how do you simplify this experience for your customers through the avenue of.
[00:09:47] Sam: A hundred percent. It’s definitely, there’s no reason to fully reinvent the wheel. Storage and moving companies existed obviously for decades, what we do. It’s, you can’t buy some off the shelf software.
[00:09:58] That’s actually going to work for exactly what you’re looking for. So we’ve definitely, scoured the competition. We’ve built our own software and then we’ve also kind of taken probably some of the 10, five, 10% from these other. Worked for them. And put it into our platform. Of course they can kind of like a, a Frank and business of, of storage scholars for the college Jordan’s game.
[00:10:17] But I think a couple of the things are you market to the college students, but the real customers are kind of the parents. So that was the biggest lesson we learned in terms of making accounts that can give both parent and student access where the student come on, they can make the account, the parent that doesn’t have to like contact the student to find out their log.
[00:10:34] The parent can pay. The student can edit the pick-up drop-off information. It’s a whole open flow of information that in the past it would be that scenario would be that Jane Smith is a divorced mom and she made an account for her son Johnny Maxwell and. The account would say Jane Smith, but it’s actually for the sun and it’s like, what is going on?
[00:10:54] Right. So being able to really be flawless in the flow of information and then that way we actually know exactly who we’re communicating to, and we can also communicate both to the students and parents and keep everybody in the loop is it’s probably the biggest differentiator.
[00:11:05] Matt: Is this all website on the website or is there a mobile.
[00:11:08] That everybody has instant access to.
[00:11:11] Sam: Yeah, it’s a mobily optimized website right now. That’s actually where we’re stepping into as well as making an app. I think the initial instinct was why do we need an app who wants to download a storage app and have it on their phone at all times? But at the same time, there is definitely limitations with websites and being able to upload images quickly.
[00:11:27] And just more so the speed of the site is what’s holding us back right now from not necessarily a customer standpoint, that’s a lot simpler, but more of a managerial standpoint because customer they’re uploading. Five images, total where the managers are going in, potentially looking at 600 orders in a one or two day period and just the load speed and the page speed needs to be increased.
[00:11:44] So making a oh an app first for the managers where they can also integrate all the software, use it right now, like off the shelf in terms of time tracking payroll and also integrating our actual software altogether to have one harmonious unit.
[00:11:58] Matt: What challenges are you finding? Kind of like you’re almost in that marketplace.
[00:12:04] Conundrum where you need to kind of serve two different crowds, right? So in a, in a marketplace standpoint, you need the customers to show up and you need the inventory to sell them in your case, you need the customers to show up, but you also you’re like, so you’re building a software for these customers to snap the photos of the stuff.
[00:12:21] People need to pack up and move for them. But then you’re also trying to build software for your team to use, efficiently and effectively. How is that process? Like, you get customers that give you feedback. Hey, this experience was great. This experience sucked. And then you get the same feedback from your, from your employees.
[00:12:35] Or like, I can’t find the stuff fast enough, or I can’t see all the orders coming in. Has that been a challenge at all or fairly smooth sailing so
[00:12:43] Sam: far? Yeah, definitely. Always been customer first. I think the customer experience has not been sacrificed by any means, but it’s been the iterations of the business.
[00:12:53] So like right now, About 80% or sorry to say it’s about 50, 50, I would say at this point, because we keep changing of our business is key access schools, kids leave their stuff in their room. They go home. We do big mass move-outs in 24, 48 hours. That has, Boriso been put on the back burner because we have a little more time and autonomy.
[00:13:13] We’re not dealing directly with the students. Face-to-face where we can kind of sit back and wait for the website to load or just kind of go on your computer. Make that work, but then you have an entirely different way. We built it where it’s like a by appointment where you meet the customers at the door, they pick up time, they’re on a alive queue and then there’s worklist associated with that.
[00:13:30] So the by appointment has been perfected, but then now that we continue to evolve and make the business model better, it’s like actually having them make two different work lists, one for like a one day, move out and one for like a 10 day move out. And with, with all the things that have obviously happened in the last 12 months, we had to.
[00:13:46] Make some other things become priority, but I think, I don’t think, this year is exactly what we’re doing. We’re actually going to make that. So they’re both working and you can have a work list. You can download that. You can search by it. You can filter by dorm. You can filter by floor of the dorm, and then you’re just going through and just crushing dorm by dorm, as opposed to like looking at specific dates or people are signing up for their move-outs.
[00:14:05] I want to
[00:14:05] Matt: move on to talk about the challenges of running the business. Aside from the software and talk about these logistic things, part of the advantage. I remember you telling me and you, I think you mentioned it before in the pre-interview is that you do go into the room, right? They, you get access to the room to grab the.
[00:14:21] And your competition doesn’t do that, right?
[00:14:25] Sam: Yeah. So, some. Some of these schools have access to the dorms. But the thing is, is that a lot of them are, are basically more so high level marketing companies. And then they’re farming out the actual, moving to local moving companies and with what’s going on with COVID and stuff as well, in terms of like having, being coming vaccinated, that’s one big barrier to entry at like, well, how are you going to trust us outside moving company to walk into your dorms, but who can you trust?
[00:14:49] The students on your campus because they’ve been vaccinated. So that was kind of one way for us to get a backdoor approach to that. And then on top of that too, if you’re an 18 year old girl and your father is sending you to school, does your father really want you to have, 40 old man walking into your room stereotypically, right.
[00:15:03] And walking into that dorm and picking up your stuff and moving it out when you could have a kid that was in your calculus class. And we definitely do struggle with the kind of balancing that image of peer to peer, but also. Kind of perfection and, level of quality because some people are like, this is awesome.
[00:15:18] You’re my, your. Current, classmate at the same time, my mom doesn’t mind if I can trust you with my stuff. So that’s another reason kind of behind the branding and trying to make us see them a more of like the Uber black premier service. We’re not a discount service, we’re charging a premium price and, our level of service should be reflected in that just because we’re using students, that doesn’t necessarily decrease the quality.
[00:15:37] It’s just increasing the personalization. Yeah.
[00:15:40] Matt: And, but the particular challenge getting to was is you have to make these, not only do you have to make that I guess, sale or relationship to the customer, but you also have to make it with the school because it’s not like the school is just going to let you do all this stuff without, I’m assume without them knowing who the heck you are and like what’s going on.
[00:15:56] They start seeing all these black t-shirts rolling in the nice logos on it. Like what’s happening here. I’m sure you have to try. Again, like a couple sides of the fence that the end user customer, and then the place that has the inventory, which is the school and in it, you have to build up those relationships on both sides.
[00:16:14] The, and then the next challenge, which popped into my head when we were chatting earlier is just the, student, what I’ll say is a paid internship. These student body employees, if you will, across the country how are you managing. Scaling that like, do you have to start having regional managers, people, once they do graduate school, they become an actual full season employee with you.
[00:16:38] And now they’re managers of that school. How does that ramp
[00:16:41] Sam: up? Yeah. So we call those internships. We call them campus co-founders because we truly believe that they are kind of co-founding in some ways like franchising their campus, and they can either get an inflated hourly upwards, 15 to $20 an hour at a base, or they can essentially get like a percentage of revenue.
[00:16:57] And then of course, they’re going to see that increase the more years that they’re actually operating. So when you have, like, for example, you had a kid who, a soft. Junior senior. By the time he was senior year, he made $20,000 in a single move out based on that revenue schedule. And then he wanted to continue working full time.
[00:17:14] So I think you have the people that are naturally interested. But the challenge with that of course is when we were kind of under a million dollars in sales or a couple years ago, it was all right. Well, we want to bring these people on, but the beauty of this business is seasonal. And as a full-time student, it was.
[00:17:28] But like now that we’re graduating we’re no longer in school. We have all this extra time and like, to what you alluded to, we’re spending a lot more of that time actually selling universities and kind of university sales, as opposed to just, building up this marketing and then trying to do the move out and then do the move in and.
[00:17:42] Taking a rest because we actually have school to do it. It’s finding a job to do the rest of the year. So as we’ve been able to grow, I think the beauty of this is that the more people that have actually wanted to work full-time we’ve been able to give them full-time opportunities. So we heard a gift from Milan.
[00:17:55] We hired a kid actually just from college of Charleston a couple of weeks ago. He came on full time and then we have two more in the pipeline, one from Richmond and one from Washington and Lee university that are currently seniors in. There if express interests and, and working post-graduation I think for the first time, I’m really excited that we actually will be able to give them full-time opportunities as just like you said, as regional managers and one region managing their region physically, but then also helping to then manage remote.
[00:18:20] No another five or 10 that are schools under their domain.
[00:18:23] Matt: Do you look at certain areas? So I’m south of Boston, there’s a billion schools here. Like, do you look at areas that you want to go into that maybe you haven’t found any organic interest from? Is that a thing? Or is it like, Hey, I’m just like this natural growth just works and it’s way easier to manage or do you look at territories that you want to get into and, and how does.
[00:18:44] Sam: A hundred percent. So I went to school in North Carolina, so natural expansion was Virginia, South Carolina. Saw a competitor that had a school in Texas at SMU. So that’s how we went down to Texas rice and that’s to me this past year, I just moved down to Texas to expand that. Texas and Florida. But I’m from New York, my business partners from Boston too.
[00:19:01] So we definitely have our sights set on the Northeast. There’s just actually a little more competition up there. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mean being a fast follower is definitely a lot easier than trying to educate not only the school, but the customer on what a valet storage service is.
[00:19:16] So I’d rather just go in where they’ve had a previous, service provider that’s just bad. And then we can just go in and take over. But where are we? Found kind of those pockets is actually we started going to housing conferences. So conferences that have the residency, I, the operations people.
[00:19:31] And that’s actually where he met this one person from Pennsylvania, where by no means were we meaning to expand there. But we developed a great rapport. She loved what she heard and she was like, yeah, I’d love to sign an exclusive contract with y’all. That’ll happen in the last couple of weeks, but now it’s like, oh, well now that puts some eyes in Pennsylvania.
[00:19:47] Maybe we need to expand there a little quicker and. Pennsylvania’s got probably 20 schools that we could expand to. And once you have that kind of density, there’s no reason not. Yeah.
[00:19:55] Matt: I’d imagine and correct me if I’m wrong. Like I, I would imagine when you go into expand into a new territory, your biggest or potentially your biggest spend is going to be marketing and advertising.
[00:20:05] Just to get the word out there. It’s not like you’re having to ship a bunch of product or these amazing boxes that we’re going to talk about in a second. But is there any kind of like thing you have to ship in? And store your own storage stuff, something really meta, like, is there a thing you have to ship out there?
[00:20:20] A box of stuff and people just have to.
[00:20:23] Sam: Yeah. So yeah, I’ll ship a box or two of our storage scholars boxes to the co-founders tell them to go out and buy a table, give them their corporate credit card to go do that. And that’s going to have shirts, cups, stickers, banners, film backs, kind of that, that kind of marketing material.
[00:20:37] But the beauty too, is that on any first year campus, whether we’re talking about marketing materials or whether we’re talking about. Storing kids’ actual things is that, there’s a really nice thing called self storage. That’s usually five minutes from campus. So when we’re not necessarily sure about a market, the numbers can look great, but it doesn’t assign me.
[00:20:54] People are going to use the service. So we’ll use self storage almost exclusively for the first year. And then once you have that market proven, then you’re going to go out and you’re going to find an industrial warehouse lease. But that being said, it’s also another challenge of the business because we might have.
[00:21:06] 10 15,000 square feet from the four months of made August. But then all these kids move back in. You might have a couple of students that store longer. You might have some marketing materials, some extra boxes, but that’s going to come down to a maximum, thousand square feet. Right. So then you’re kind of downsizing either to self storage or coming up with a really creative lease with the landlord.
[00:21:22] But that’s a, that’s definitely a, a tough aspect of the business too. It’s finding that space.
[00:21:27] Matt: Oh, when you raise a billion dollars, I hope it’s not one of those. We work stories where you set out to be a coworking space, but you ended up being a real estate company. And then why the hell do you own all this property?
[00:21:36] And you’re like, oh, we’re really a moving company. And then sheets are all imbalanced. Let’s talk about, let’s talk about marketing for a second. Toward the end of the show, a great marketing. I think I know the answer, but why did you focus on, how did you feel? How did you know that, that marketing’s really going to work for something like this or branding and your logo and stuff is really going to work for something like this?
[00:21:57] A competitive market.
[00:21:59] Sam: Yeah, the way the business was started, as I printed out some flyers that I’d probably throw up out. If I looked at today, I’m there pretty embarrassing, but I went door to door. I saw all my freshmen, hallmates and freshman classmates, and they knock on the door and they say, come in.
[00:22:13] I’m like, no, that’s, I would knock on the door again to come in. And I’m like, no, I’m not who you think I am, but sure. I’ll come in. So I, I definitely had some tough conversations at the beginning and got some raw feedback on what was what they were looking for and what they weren’t looking for. But I think initially too, in terms of like a branding aspect after kind of doing that customer discovery was.
[00:22:31] The best advice that I got from one of my entrepreneurship professors is there was a competitor on campus and I was like, oh, they’re charging $14 a box. I’m going to charge 13. Oh, he’s like, do not be the discount service, like always charge more and, but provide more too. Right. So I from, I wouldn’t say day one, but from day two, it’s like, okay.
[00:22:49] Yes, we need to be out there. Be the premium service and service, the top level customer and give them the service that they, that they desire. And the whole black and white was really trying to be the. Premium futuristic, Uber black type experience, luxury experiences, as opposed to being, I don’t know, like a green eco-friendly moving company.
[00:23:07] We are. Absolutely. You can find that. I don’t mean to say it like that, but I think sometimes there’s, there’s definitely certain colors that elicit certain emotions and I, I want it to be more of a sleek elite luxury brand.
[00:23:17] Matt: Yeah. The do do when every time you’re moving students, You always rocking the branded boxes or is it like one branded box on top and the rest of them are
[00:23:26] Sam: brown?
[00:23:27] No, absolutely. So not only does that give you the brand awareness, but actually, so we used to use obviously brown boxes, right. And we would buy these stickers and they put the sticker on top of the box. It also put the sticker on there, out of box item, their TV, their refrigerator, whatever. But in terms of like an inventory perspective, if you imagine you have a box and then you’d stack another box on top, And you have a sticker on the top.
[00:23:49] Well, you can’t see it. Right? So those boxes were also designed because you have their writing, their name, the order number, the item number on the top of the box. They’re also writing it massively on the side of the box, actually in the storage facilities. They’re lined up. Yeah. I see all their names very, very clearly.
[00:24:04] So from just like an identification standpoint, that was the purpose of it. And then of course, yet when you walk around with black storage, collar shirts, white shirts, white shorts, and these big black boxes, and then you see them in the, in the dumpsters for two weeks after, and the recycling bins, after everyone leaves and comes back, it’s like, it’s great branding.
[00:24:19] Matt: Yeah. Yeah. People wonder what the heck’s going on. I want that, like, that looks easy. Speaking of looks easy. I’m looking at the. Archive a web archive.org site. And I’m looking back to August, 2018. Your tagline for the site back then was easy, effortless and economical live the scholars. How did you change that from a marketing perspective?
[00:24:40] You started talking to customers, you chatted with them. They were like, no, we’ll pay you a little bit more money. And you got rid of the word economical. How did that all play out? Changing that.
[00:24:48] Sam: Yeah. I thought alliteration was more powerful than value at the time. So that’s probably why I went with that.
[00:24:53] But yeah, I it was, like I said, I, I want it to beat out the competition because also at the same time, I didn’t, I wasn’t confident. Like I knew it was confident in myself, but I’d never, I didn’t want to over promise and under deliver. So to say, Hey, we’re the best service we’re better than the competition.
[00:25:06] I’d never even moved to box before. It’s like, that was kind of tough. So that was year one. And then once we, server. 64 students at wake forest university. I was like, all right, well, this went well. We made it happen. I touched every single box. I know exactly how this works. I shook probably half the kids hands and the parents hands that use this service.
[00:25:22] All right. Now I’m confident we can go out there and start to spread what we’re doing and do it in a, in a much better way and be able to charge that premium price tag, Sam,
[00:25:30] Matt: this doesn’t sound like it’s your first rodeo. Who do you have? Have you ran a business before somebody, your dad, your parents, a great mentors.
[00:25:38] You’re just born with it. What is it?
[00:25:40] Sam: So my parents are both public high school teachers in New York. I’m the youngest of three. My brother is a web developer, my sister’s a and in fashion. So I, I didn’t necessarily get it from them fully, but definitely the fiscal responsibility absolutely came from my parents, actually my grandfather mostly, and from, at a young age.
[00:26:00] Kind of the quintessential story would be, and maybe two of them was that at five. I was like, Hey mom, dad, like, I want to have a lemonade stand. So great. Okay. So you’re going to go out. You’re going to buy the paper, the markers, the plastic cups and the, lemonade powder. And w we’ll we’ll lend you the money in the beginning, but you got to pass that back.
[00:26:17] And to like be, $18 in debt at five years old, it’s like, shit. Like I gotta make this happen. Right. So I’m standing out in the street and I’m flagging people down. And, and from that point on, even at age nine, I’m like, oh mom, like Frankie wants an Xbox for Christmas. Okay. Well, how are you going to get that for him?
[00:26:33] Right. Well, it’s like, I wasn’t poor, but it just kind of given him. The fiscal responsibility at such a young age, what kind of drove me to, to start develop these skills very early on and start flipping ATVs cars and stuff like that in high school and selling candy out of my locker and middle school. I was always kind of hustling.
[00:26:49] Matt: Are you, have you raised money? I don’t think we, as we talked about this in the pre-interview raising money, organic bootstrap, I should say, or do you plan on raising money? What are the cards hold.
[00:26:58] Sam: Yeah. Currently exclusively bootstrapped. Like I said, too excited for aside from a little PPP, but it, the, the business motto is structured such as, and the reason why I started this business was, Hey, I need to make money.
[00:27:10] Like today. I need to pay for my school today. So how can I do that? And so kids would pay a $50 deposit, which they still do now. And that for me covered the initial cost of the boxes, the tape, the storage units, the trucks, and that’s, what’s been able to catapult. As far, I don’t think we could grow to 150 schools next year without raising money, but that’s not really the purpose or really the path right now.
[00:27:33] Like I said, building deep in-depth relationships with the universities and the life cycle of a, of a university sales cycle is, is pretty it’s pretty. Oh, it’s more of a relationship driven business. So trying to figure that out along the way, and at this point where we’ve been able to bootstrap it and keep it going that way.
[00:27:49] Matt: Sam chase and storage scholars, storage, scholars.com, Sam, anywhere else you want folks to go?
[00:27:56] Sam: Yeah, definitely follow us on socials on on Instagram, on Facebook, LinkedIn, we are definitely trying to be a young company. So give us some rod feedback. If, if you’re in that age, demographic 18 to 21, let us know what we’re doing.
[00:28:10] Right. Let’s know what we’re doing wrong. Love to hear from you,
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