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Student Services

Providing services for fellow students can be a very smart business move.

This story appears in the August 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

We can just see it--that messy college apartment, complete with dirty clothes on the floor and a kitchen so raunchy that people can smell it out in the hallway. Wouldn't it be nice to get other people to clean it--and hey, could they do the laundry, too? Those are the kinds of questions college service businesses answer. These student-run companies can do just about anything, from delivering food to doing laundry to cleaning your average dorm room/biohazard.

Just ask Alan Ringvald and Assaf Swissa about the response students had to their company, College Bellhop. "It's been overwhelming," says Ringvald, 23. "[Students] like how affordable we are." He and Swissa, also 23, started the business as college sophomores in 2002 (Ringvald at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Swissa at Boston University). Ringvald remembers calling a cleaning service for his apartment and learning that the cleaning companies in his area charged much more than he could afford. Knowing other students would be willing to pay for an affordable cleaning service inspired the pair to start up (they charge about $60 to clean a three-person suite). Initially, they were the only cleaners--but as word-of-mouth grew, so did demand, so they had to hire staff. Says Ringvald, "By the time I graduated, we had 300 customers."

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