Endeavors of an entrepreneur
Jeremy Elkins '12 started two businesses on campus this year
Jeremy Elkins' '12 business career started with a fateful trip to the restroom. While taking a bathroom break from his class "Paradigms of Biological Investigation" and scanning the business advertisements hanging on the stalls of the Carl J. Shapiro Science Center bathroom, Elkins suddenly had an idea. For weeks, he had been contemplating where he should store his things during the summer months without finding a reasonably priced option. On that April day, the Science Center bathroom provided Elkins with the inspiration he needed. Instead of storing his things with an overpriced company, he realized he could start his own storage business. One month, 14 customers and 76 storage boxes later, Elkins had successfully started Jeremy's Storage Service, which allowed students to stock their things in a storage space Elkins had rented out. Now, Elkins is in the midst of starting his second business for Brandeis students, Jeremy's Split-A-Cab Service.
Elkins, a Business and Sociology double major, says he has always been interested in business. At the age of 8, he started his first unofficial business, called Cool Clay Creations, which entailed him selling the clay from his driveway to sympathetic neighbors. He says his interest also manifested itself in the way he strategically traded his Pokémon cards and made a hobby out of finding things in his house to sell on eBay and Craigslist. However, he says that Jeremy's Storage Service truly gave him a sense of what it takes to succeed in the business world.
When putting together Jeremy's Storage Service, Elkins learned the intricacies of business through advertising, negotiating with the employees he rented the storage space from and dealing with customers. Such experience has proved necessary for his new, more-complicated business venture.
Jeremy's Split-A-Cab Service is intended to provide students who are taking a cab to the Logan International Airport or South Station with a resource that connects them to other students taking cabs to the airport or train station at that time. Once connected, those students can split the cab and thereby split the cost.
In order to participate in the Split-A-Cab Service, students must e-mail Elkins with the time they need to take a cab in advance. If another student has e-mailed Elkins saying they also need a cab at that time, he will connect the two students for a $5 fee.
Elkins summarizes the design of the business and says, "The idea is you have a flight at 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and you're like, 'Oh snap, none of my friends are flying [at that time], I wish I could contact everyone at Brandeis and see if they're flying.' We have no way of doing that, because there's not one [central] resource. I want to be that resource."
Elkins, who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and has a contagious positive energy, says he had the idea for the business last year when he had to take a 4 a.m. cab to the airport. He says that on the way to the airport, his cab picked up another Brandeis student who lived off campus. However, because he and the other student weren't technically taking the cab "together," they both had to pay "almost full price." As a result of the incident, Elkins says he "figured I'd just make my own business" to remedy what he saw as an "absurd system."
Elkins got started planning the service this October. He officially launched the business 2 weeks ago and has promoted it by putting flyers up in North, East and Ziv quads. He also advertised for the business in the Student Union announcements. Six students have already contacted Elkins about using the service.
In the future, he plans on putting flyers up in all the campus dorms and working more with Stephanie Grimes, director of Student Activities, to make the service a "legitimate Brandeis business." This means he hopes the Office of Admissions and Student Services will eventually advertise his service to prospective students and parents to promote the transportation services offered by the University. He also hopes to make a website for the service.
Elkins, who is an undergraduate Departmental representative for the Business major, feels as though his involvement in business has positively affected his experience at Brandeis.
"It's a lot of fun because I get questions [about my businesses] all the time. [The questions] help me ... make connections with people and think about the way they see my businesses and how I can make them better. ... Through business, you get to know more people, and meeting people through business is unbelievable," says Elkins.
Elkins, who is going abroad to London next semester, hopes to continue his businesses when he is away. He is considering having a Jeremy's Storage Service at the end of first semester for students going abroad, although he is not sure that market is big enough to make the business worthwhile. He also says he has several younger friends who have expressed interest in taking over Jeremy's Storage Service next semester, and he may pass down the reins and teach a younger student how to run the business. However, he will most likely continue his work with Jeremy's Split-A-Cab Service while overseas since most of his interaction with customers is done over e-mail.
Upon graduation, Elkins would like to continue his involvement in business by getting "every piece of the business world." For example, last semester he interned at a marketing agency, and this semester he is interning at a start-up business. While in London next semester, Elkins will be interning at an advertising agency.
With a big smile on his face, Elkins explains, "After college, when I continue doing business, I want to get experience everywhere. I want it to be like the Brandeis education; a broad spectrum like liberal arts, but liberal business.