Last month at our 2016 Global Roundup conference, we had the pleasure of having Cam Doody –– President and Founder of Bellhops –– kick us off with our opening keynote. And he brought down the house with his story of how he became an entrepreneur and how he has grown his company. We caught up with him in the following weeks to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey and spotlight his achievements for those of you who weren’t able to join us at Global Roundup this summer.
What was your first experience with entrepreneurship?
The first company we started was called The Dorm Movers. We moved Freshmen into residential housing at Auburn University. It’s how all of this started, and we thought we had a giant opportunity. Looking back we were about as niche as niche businesses get. We weren’t really movers in the early days; more like Bellhops taking customers belongings up to their rooms. That’s where the name came from.
Can you talk a little about your journey as a founder?
It’s been a constant process of redefining ourselves, not in terms of pivoting, but in terms of expanding our service offering. When you listen to your customers, you’re usually not surprised by what they tell you, but it’s almost always uncomfortable to hear because you know they’re right and you know what you need to do. Just when you feel like you’ve cornered the market (for example, moving college kids into dorms), you realize you need to take a bigger bite of the pie. Fast forward to today, we’re taking on an $18B space as a full-fledged moving company built on tech that allows us to operate a better, leaner, more efficient model than traditional moving companies.
What was the most difficult thing you encountered when starting up?
In the early days, the hardest part for me was always letting go of things. It’s something I’ve gotten much better at, but in the beginning, your life as an entrepreneur is about wearing 10 hats and plugging holes. You get so close to the problems that it becomes hard to pass them off to other people as your company grows. You have to learn to let go.
What has been the most rewarding moment since you started your journey?
Although I don’t like to look at fundraising as a “win”, it definitely feels like one. It’s hard to beat the moment when you close a round. Each one is special in it’s own way, and each represents the beginning of a new era in the business.
How did you develop or refine your vision since you started?
It’s really, really important to define who you are very early on. Every early stage company has those magical couple years where who you are and what you believe is almost all you have to hold onto. The years where everyone in the organization understands and embodies the heart of your business. Unfortunately it gets harder as you grow.
What do you think is some important or useful advice for young entrepreneurs hoping to start out and build a company?
Don’t lose the magic; perpetuate it and be completely obsessed with keeping it alive because it is and always will be the best part of your business. If you’ve perpetuated it, the heart of your company will come up in interviews and you’ll program your new employees from day one to uphold it. For us it was a complete obsession with customer service. “Blow the customer’s mind” was our very first company maxim. We defined it early, and never let go of it. With all that said, it’s not over there. You have to streamline your branding and communications into a singular voice that supports those core maxims, and it has to be authentic. If you were to throw a dart at your company, and every piece of messaging all points back to the the same core beliefs, your customer will believe you. When your customer believes you, they will talk about you.
Our audiences absolutely loved you. How was your experience at Global Roundup?
Seriously, the event was amazing. As a co-founder of a company I know how valuable it can be to have access to information in the beginning of your business journey. Organizations and events like this are so important to creating a platform that allows a large number of people to connect with subject matter experts, and allows “subject matter” experts the opportunity to share successes and failures.
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We are so glad to have Cam become a member of our 3DS community. If you want to learn more about Global Roundup, visit our page here. And if you want to see Cam’s opening keynote from our 2017 conference, watch it down below:
To learn more about this past year’s Global Roundup visit our webpage and stay tuned for announcements about next year’s conference. Contact us today and bring a 3 Day Startup program to your university or community. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about upcoming events and receive notifications for more blogs like this to help you on your entrepreneurial journey. To learn more about Bellhops, visit www.getbellhops.com.