New HBS start-up aims to provide convenience to moving-in experiences at campuses nationwide.
The Harbus sits down with Pete Rispoli (NB), an ex-Marine, to discuss the start-up that he has been working on since he first came to HBS. Having lived abroad in various locales throughout his military career, Pete understands the pains of relocating and uses his personal experience and big data to craft a unique service offering through Campus Doorman.
So tell us how did you come up with this idea?
The idea started last fall when I saw my classmates moving in. It was August 1st and it was complete chaos: lines out the door for the elevator, gridlock traffic in the parking lot, and Uber surge pricing of 4x. The most memorable moment was when I saw one girl, in the stairwell, with a rope tied around her waist dragging a dining room table set behind her.
I wondered what could be done to change this? Everyone knew this day was coming. For the most part, students need the same things, from the same stores, and at the same time. What if we could aggregate all the purchases beforehand and just have a few students coordinate everything? So we set off to gather data to discover the services and products students need the most at HBS. Quickly enough, we got a huge response from both customers and businesses. We have already signed 15 national partnerships with marquee companies such Wayfair, Drizzly, Peapod, Sleepys, and Rent The Runway to get discounts for HBS students on everything from furniture and groceries to gowns and travel.
So what can I get a Campus Doorman to do for me?
Simplify life at HBS – plain and simple. We all know how crazy life at HBS can be with academics, recruiting, and social events filling your outlook email. You would love to outsource a lot of time-consuming tasks like moving, laundry, house cleaning but don’t want to pay extravagant sums for convenience. Campus Doorman steps in by not only grouping all students’ orders together to lower prices but also assigning a doorman to coordinate it all.
Let’s use our Mover’s Supervision Package as an example. We all know how awful the moving experience is at HBS. You are literally competing with 250,000 other students in Boston for the same things. What if you could get someone who is trusted in the community and has been in your shoes before to coordinate your entire move for you? Someone familiar with the area and surrounding stores who could check you in, coordinate all your services and deliveries, and have everything ready before you arrive?
No more surging Uber rides, dealing with carrying and assembling furniture, or waiting for late movers. Everything is just done for you as you walk into your apartment for the first time. That is just one of the ways a Campus Doorman can simplify your life at HBS. We think that offer is a huge value add, not to mention we actually save customers on average $650 and 17 hours of misery compared to when they try and do it themselves.
Isn’t this kind of what Hello Alfred offers?
If by Hello Alfred, you mean at ½ the price, 2x the convenience, and 8x the available services then yes. We are more similar to an Amazon-in-person business that is obsessed with cutting service costs for HBS students. We work hand in hand with vendors to help their supply chain and in some cases, even provide the services ourselves. A good example would be textbook reselling. It is a very popular service now for our RC and EC clients. If you use Campus Doorman, we will pick up your books anywhere on campus for free and sell them directly to consumers, guaranteeing you the highest buyback. If you were to use Hello Alfred, you would have to pay double margin: one for using an Alfred and another one when Alfred uses a middleman, who sells it to a book reseller. The difference would come out to roughly $50 in fees, so once you multiply that out by a few hundred students you can see how much Campus Doorman saves clients.
Finally, how do you envision Campus Doorman to continue on its growth journey?
We were lucky enough to win incubation through the Harvard Law School, Harvard College, and Harvard Business School (VIP at the i-Lab) so we want to use the momentum to keep adding services. For the summer time frame, we have been focused on helping incoming RCs with the HBS housing process, furniture, and checking-in but we want to solve every inefficient, time-consuming task that plagues the average HBS student. Furniture assembly, grocery delivery, home cleaning, and laundry service are just a few services that we know the model works for. All those services will be available in the fall to HBS students through our platform.
In the long run, we will also look at how we can expand our coverage to other campuses around Boston and hopefully, nationwide.
For the incoming Class of 2018 who are moving on campus soon, how can they secure Campus Doorman’s service?
I’m glad you ask! Incoming RCs, current RCs, and outgoing ECs can visit campusdoorman.com to plan and buy services for your relocation. We’re also pretty active on social media; Facebook: Campus Doorman, Twitter: @campusdoorman, Instagram: @CampusDoorman. To read more about our satisfied customers and future offerings, visit our blog at https://campusdoorman.com/blogs/moving-to-hbs.
Adzmel Adznan (HBS 17’) is a trained engineer, accidental strategist, and aspiring writer who enjoys spending his time at the beach reading, writing, and sunbathing. Prior to HBS, he worked in the oil & gas industry for 7 years and apart from writing for The Harbus, he is involved in the Energy & Environment and Outdoor Clubs. He plans to rent a small cottage in the Caribbean over the summer to finish off one of his many outstanding novels.