Tech-based moving business Bellhops won a national competition and $200,000 that leaders will use to expand their company.
"We are growing our headquarters at a very fast pace right now," COO Matt Patterson said. "We really want to double our full-time staff within the next six months. The money couldn't have come at a better time."
Bellhops employs more than 9,000 college students to provide moving services in 135 cities and 42 states across the country. The company has 40 employees in Chattanooga, 25 of whom are full time.
After their recent win of the Miller Lite Tap the Future competition, leaders have their sights set on expanding to add at least 75 more markets, including the possibility of working in Canada, Patterson said.
Miller Lite Tap the Future is a business competition that pits entrepreneurs against each other to win part of a $300,000 prize.
The competition also offers business seminars, pitch opportunities, and connections with mentors and businesspeople, such as Daymond John from ABC’s "Shark Tank."
Bellhops' participation in the competition started after someone with the company saw a tweet about it. They figured they would give it a shot, and that led them to a regional competition.
Bellhops co-founder Stephen Vlahos and marketing manager Tripp Stanford went to Atlanta for that pitch.
Before the presentations, the duo got training on public speaking and advice about how to give the pitch, which was Vlahos' job.
Stanford said the main message they took from their training there was, "It's all about showmanship."
Vlahos had prepared an entire presentation full of information, such as financials. But after the advice from the training sessions, he scrapped the entire thing, Stanford said.
If there was any uncomfortable silence, it didn't last long. Soon, Vlahos delivered his first joke and had the entire audience laughing, Stanford and Patterson said.
Bellhops came away from that regional competition with some new connections, a $20,000 win and a spot in the national finals.
Next, Bellhops leaders went to Chicago to present to a panel of judges, which included financial and business experts, journalists and other entrepreneurs.
A month after pitching in Chicago, Bellhops leaders found out they won the $200,000 grand prize.
Co-founder Cameron Doody said that the competition was stiff and that winning is an "incredible honor."
"We think Bellhops’ unique approach to technology and moving is what won the competition for us," he said in a prepared statement.
And Patterson explained a bit more about what he thinks sets the company apart from other moving services.
For example, the company has a system that sends customers information about their movers. So clients get profiles and pictures of each student who will be doing the moving. That brings a level of trustworthiness and quality to the situation, Patterson said.
He said their online process to hire a mover is "frictionless." And he said the company charges less per hour than most other companies.
"We are 30 percent less than the average moving company," he said.