In nearly every successful startup venture, there comes a time when the company founders agree to turn over day-to-day management of their growing business idea to an outside management expert.
For Stephen Vlahos and Cameron Doody, who devised the on-line moving company Bellhops in 2010, the summer of 2017 marked the transition time for the growing moving and service company. After building a successful app and network of thousands of on-demand workers, raising $28 million in equity capital, and completing 100,000 moves in more than two dozen markets, Vlahos turned over his CEO role in July to Luke Marklin, a young Harvard MBA graduate who spent the past three years helping oversee Uber's growth in Atlanta, Nashville and other Southeastern markets.
"We realized that to continue to invest in this amazing company that has such potential we needed to jumpstart that growth by bringing in people who have been there and done that and could really capitalize on how fast this could grow," Vlahos says.
Vlahos remains as a board member and major shareholder of Bellhops and his co-founder, Cam Doody, remains as chairman and will work closely on a daily basis with Marklin.
Marklin, a St. Louis native, earned business degrees with honors from both Purdue and Harvard universities and says he learned a lot about disrupting the transportation world at Uber, the on-demand transport service started in 2009 that quickly grew to more than $6.5 billion in revenues last year.
"A lot of the same logistical and operational challenges that Uber is tackling within the transportation space are very similar to what Bellhops is tackling within the moving space," he says. "The moving industry is really complicated and messy and is ripe for change, and I think Bellhops has a tremendous team and technology to drive a change in this industry."
Marklin said the $18 billion-a-year moving industry currently has more than 10,000 local operators and is entering a transformative stage.
"This company has a huge potential and I'm just excited to be joining and writing the next chapter of their story," he says.
Marklin said the potential for Bellhops attracted him to Chattanooga, but the appeal of his new hometown is likely to keep him in his new job.
"My wife, son and I have quickly also fallen in love with Chattanooga and we think it's going to be a phenomenal town to raise a family and to take advantage of some fun outdoor activities," Marklin says.