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Nice Moves

Brian Altomare's company is moving up by moving out dorm furniture.

What: A moving company for college students
Who: Brian Altomare of MadPackers
Where: Boca Raton, Florida When: Started in 2005
Startup costs: $2,000

After college, Brian Altomare had several startup business ideas, from selling 1-800 numbers (which he learned was illegal) to starting an internet marketing company (which he ended up doing with three college buddies). While the internet marketing business didn't last, Altomare's memories of moving in and out of college dorms did--and they inspired him to start MadPackers in 2005.

Describing the experience of moving into his dorm with his father's help as "horrendous," Altomare saw a need for a company that simplified the college moving experience. After sitting on the idea for a year, he researched everything from couriers to price points before starting MadPackers as a one-employee, homebased operation. Altomare's business, which offers moving services for college students and provides packing supplies, now employs 55 people, and he envisions MadPackers evolving into an all-purpose company serving college students.

The company's sales for last year were $800,000, which Altomare says puts MadPackers on track to meet his sales projections of $1.5 million for 2007. One way MadPackers is reaching its target audience and building sales is by aligning itself with music entertainment. In March, the company launched its Door to Dorm concert tour, which visited 17 campuses and three festivals.

Altomare attributes much of the company's growth to its 2005 partnership with Universal Express Inc., a company offering luggage delivery and other services to travelers. Universal Express has not only invested in MadPackers, but it also provides customer service support, logistics and guidance to the company.

Still, Altomare says he has learned quite a few lessons on his own, from not hiring friends and family to making sure to pay interns and learning to take breaks. "At a certain point after you've developed the concept or the idea, remove yourself from the brand and the company," he recommends. "Take a break and go explore the world."

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This article was originally published in the August 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Nice Moves.

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