This week, we are excited to introduce you to Cameron Doody, co-founder of Bellhops. Bellhops is an on-demand service for local moving help that is an affordable alternative to do-it-yourself moving. Launched in 2013, they are currently in 136 cities with plans to be in 250 by the end of 2015. In this interview, we’ll learn about how Bellhops began and why it’s so effective.
StartupLowdown: Welcome Cameron. Can you talk about why you first started Bellhops?
Cameron: Well Bellhops actually started as a student moving service – we provided beefy college kids to move other college kids. Pretty quickly, we realized the rest of America (non-students) was a much larger market, but still had the same needs… simple moving help, on-demand. For example, around 45m Americans will move this year, and 75% (34m) of them are considered ‘do-it-yourselfers’ when it comes to moving! They don’t want to do it themselves… they’re just price conscious, have smaller moves and don’t have a better option other than buying beer and pizza and begging friends/family to help.
StartupLowdown: What was it like in the early days of the company? How did you initially spread the word to consumers? What were the biggest challenges you went through to get to where you are now?
Cameron: We just hustled. We did things that didn’t scale in the beginning – flyers, booths at events, posting to Craigslist (which we still do a lot of today), blogger outreach, etc. Our biggest obstacle is exposure. We’re covering so many cities now (136), that getting big exposure across the board is a challenge and requires human capital. Up to this point, our focus on exposure has been to build a really really great product, and let our customers sell for us.
StartupLowdown: Congratulations on all of your success so far. You’ve had impressive growth, but what really stands out to me are your phenomenal reviews (97% customer satisfaction rate). What’s your secret?
Cameron: We have an empowered workforce. We contract top-tier college students exclusively, so we’re already pulling from somewhat of a vetted pool. Beyond that, we recruit from reputable student organizations like club sports, business groups, ROTC, etc. and they all go through a selective screening/training process. I have a theory on this… the reason we’re able to achieve such high levels of service come from the fact that our customers have respect and hope for their Bellhops, because they know they won’t be movers for the rest of their lives. Bellhops are future doctors, entrepreneurs, engineers, etc. We give them a platform to prove their work ethic and value, and they take a ton of pride in what they do.
StartupLowdown: Who do you see as your biggest competitors? How are you different from them?
Cameron: Our biggest competitors are our customers deciding to move themselves. Moving companies are focusing on very different customers than us. We aren’t built for moving 5 bedroom houses with antiques and pianos, we’re built for small-scale moves like renters, 1-3 bedroom apartments, single residents, small families, storage trips, etc. We’re truly opening a new market of people who have never had a good option for their needs.
StartupLowdown: What are your priorities for Bellhops both near-term and long-term?
Cameron: We’re going to become the go-to provider for moving help in every major city in the country. We are laser focused on this market, and although there are a large number of other verticals that we could challenge with our workforce, we will not divert focus until we’ve owned this sandbox.
StartupLowdown: What role do you see Mobile playing in your business going forward?
Cameron: Mobile will run everything next year. Our mobile apps launch in March ’15 and will be a huge part of our company, for both growth and operations.
StartupLowdown: For our readers who are considering using Bellhops, what would you tell them?
Cameron: Easier, cheaper, better. Get ready for customer service.
StartupLowdown: Cameron, thanks for joining us! We really enjoyed talking with you, and we’re excited about what’s to come for Bellhops. If there’s anything we can do to support your team, please let us know!
To find out more about Bellhops or give them a try, please visit any of the links below: