In what is believed to be the most money raised in a fundraising round of any Chattanooga startup, Bellhops Moving announced Tuesday that the company has raised over $31 million to help them expand into new markets and double their number of employees in 2019.
The $31.4 million Bellhops raised in its Series C round of funding brings the total amount of money raised to over $50 million since the moving company's start in 2011. In a news conference at the company's Warehouse Row headquarters Tuesday morning, CEO Luke Marklin and President and co-founder Cameron Doody said the money will help expand the number of employees at the company's Chattanooga office and open a satellite office in Atlanta. The staff at the two offices will grow from 122 to nearly 250 employees.
Bellhops also employs roughly 3,000 movers and drivers during the peak seasons of spring and early summer.
This caps a momentous year for the company in which it expanded into 10 new cities and increased its revenue by 150 percent, according to Kyle Miller, Bellhops' head of brand and communications.
"Today marks a big milestone for our mission to fix something that is really broken," Doody said. "This announcement was really about the fuel that we need to take this business to a national level and really change the landscape in moving all the way out to every segment in the industry."
Bellhops uses a tech-enabled platform and a workforce of mostly college students to offer a lower-cost option for moves. By answering a few, select questions online, like how many years a customer has lived at their current location, Bellhops' technology is able to determine with a high degree of accuracy how long a move will take and how many movers should be there, company officials have said. A customer can opt to get a truck and movers or just hire the help. Because all of the technology is centralized at their Chattanooga headquarters and there isn't a need for an office in every market, Bellhops is able to keep the price affordable.
Marklin, a former general manager for Uber in the region, said this most recent round of funding means the model is working.
"Moving is an $18 billion dollar industry that people loathe," he said. "Bellhops is the solution for that. We've created something that is making moving more simple, easy, more affordable and dare I say, even fun."
In November, Bellhops announced a rebranding and the news that they will more than double the number of cities they serve next year. Already in 31 cities and 13 states as far west as Arizona, north to Pennsylvania and south to Tampa, Fla., Bellhops is planning to expand to three or four cities a month in 2019, including major cities like Las Vegas and Miami.
Miller said the Atlanta office will eventually grow to a team of about 20 employees, but company officials said the Chattanooga Warehouse Row headquarters located in the South side of the building will also expand and take over half of the North end of the building. Marklin said a majority of dollars raised in the Series C round of funding will stay in Chattanooga.
The funding was led by Advance Venture Partners with participation from Canaan, Initialized Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Nashville Capital Network.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Christy Gillenwater also attended the news conference Tuesday.
"They are disrupting this business and changing the way people think about moving, and as a city of creators we want businesses like this in our community," Berke said.
Gillenwater said the chamber is focused on job creation and development of the "talent pipeline," praising Marklin, Doody and the rest of the Bellhops team for not only helping their business but the community, as well.
"They've been great stewards of Chattanooga's and Hamilton County's brand and telling our story ... " she said.
Marklin said they aren't just looking to hire more drivers and movers, either. They are looking to hire directors and key leadership roles. He said to continue to check the Bellhops career page for updates.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of what we've built over the last six years since moving to Chattanooga," Doody said. "I'm more proud of the countless individuals who have poured their lives into this business to really make us who we are."
Contact staff writer Allison Shirk Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org, @AllisonSCollins or 423-757-6651.