Student business eases move-out

While most students find the hassle of finals, cleaning their rooms, following housing policies and moving out almost unbearable, move-out season may prove lucrative for two Tech students if their business venture takes off. Troy Zhang, third-year IE, and Dennis Solaiman, third-year CEE, are opening the second branch of Student Sherpas this semester, hoping to fill a void in the dorm move-out market.

Student Sherpas is operated through a website, on which customers can register for pick-up times that span finals week. Customers can choose to either have their stuff stored over the summer or to have it shipped to a destination.

For those who choose to have their stuff stored for the summer, it will be delivered to their new residence during the fall semester move-in.

The draw of Student Sherpas is that they do all the work, except for packing the stuff. If one lacks packing materials, they will provide boxes and tape. And of course, old copies of the Technique can be used as stuffing.

Prices for the most popular items and box sizes are listed on the website, and quotes can be given for items that are not listed. Perhaps the most popular item is the “Student Sherpas signature box,” which is a four cubic foot box.

The price for one signature box to be picked-up, stored and shipped is $30. Similarly, a cube-shaped fridge goes for $35.

Student Sherpas was founded last year by two seniors at the University of Maryland who both enjoy rock climbing and thought it would be fun to incorporate that into the company name. Now operating as a team of three, Aaron Frank, Corey Laplante and Matt Rothstein are holding down the fort at UMD, while Zhang and Solaiman are beginning operations at Tech.

As an IE, Zhang believes the operation is right up his alley. “I think logistics is pretty interesting,” Zhang said. For Solaiman, the job appeals more to his entrepreneurial side than to his major.

“I think it shows great initiative and will be a good thing to put on our resumes,” Solaiman said.

According to Zhang, the founders of Student Sherpas are not actively attempting to branch out past Tech this year, although it is a consideration for the future.

“We want to see how it goes here first,” Zhang said.

“We are expecting around 100 customers for this semester,” Zhang said. Although this is a modest goal for a market of several thousand students, the two will be happy to meet that goal, because they believe this is a building year for the company.

“We have to get the word out and gain people’s trust,” Zhang said.

Aside from a blossoming entrepreneurial spirit, the two also attribute some of their motivation to past experience.

“We’re both from Philadelphia… We’ve found that for out-of-state students, it was very difficult to move in and out,” Zhang said.

“One thing that we want to emphasize is that we are not an outside company that is just coming in to make money off of the students. The company is being run by students, and we understand that it is tough moving out,” Solaiman said.

“One of our main goals is to make things easier on students, not just to turn a profit off of them,” Solaiman said.

Officially, the company is a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), with all of the documents and contracts to prove it. On their website, one can find the terms and conditions, which are all neatly categorized in a 3000 word document.

According to the website, every package is automatically insured for a maximum of 100 dollars, although electronics and fragile items cannot be insured unless they are in their original packaging.

Additional insurance can be purchased for more valuable items, although some very valuable items, such as jewelry, will not be insured.

Zhang and Solaiman claim that neither of them has mentioned the business to their parents, because they are unsure how their parents might react.

Although Zhang is interning this semester and not taking classes, Solaiman is taking a full load and will have finals to contend with.

“I’ve been asking my professors if I can take my finals early so that we set aside finals week to work,” Solaiman said.

After they finish with Student Sherpas, Zhang and Solaiman are looking forward to interning this summer.

Because Zhang is already interning this semester, he has an internship lined up with the same company for the fall. Solaiman is still waiting to hear back from his top choice.

In addition to pursuing new business initiatives and making good grades, Zhang and Solaiman also enjoy spending time with friends and being active.

Solaiman especially enjoys team sports and plays intramural flag football.

The Student Sherpas motto is “cheap, easy and reliable summer shipping and storage.” For more information regarding their policies or rates, visit their website at