Silliman College junior Josh Helmrich ’09 runs the Yale franchise of The Student Storage Company, which provides moving and storage services for students at the beginning and end of the academic year. he talked to the News about the business, how he balances his responsibilities and his plans for the future.
Q: What led to your decision to start the franchise last year?
A: My friend works for the company headquarters in Syracuse, N.Y., and he suggested I bring it here. In general, though, there is definitely some room for improvement in our services, and we’re going to try to improve things this year.
Q: What are your responsibilities?
A: Well, last year was more stressful. There were more logistical issues, such as devising out a route for delivery, hiring students to pick stuff up from rooms and making sure there were no legal issues with the University. This year should be smoother. Basically, I’m responsible for advertising, and I’m also the man on the ground who is in charge during pickup and delivery. I make sure the students get their stuff back and I also hire employees. Advertising is the bulk of my effort. The days of move-in and move-out are stressful times of year. Finals are happening at the same time, but I have to do all my work for Student Storage. It’s a really tough time of the year to be so busy.
Q: Are you considering starting your own business in the future?
A: In the immediate future, I have an interest in entrepreneurship. One day when I can afford to open my own business, I’d like to. I’m definitely interested in new business startups, though, and in business in general.
Q: What have you learned from this job?
A: I feel like I have a strong interest in entrepreneurship. It’s difficult balancing friendship and work. When you hire your friends, you don’t really want to yell at them. It was good to learn how to manage and to be accountable to other people than yourself. I have to be there for people who have complaints. You can’t pick up these kinds of skills from your classes. It’s basically an education outside of the classroom. It was a really good experience.
Q: Is it hard to balance this and school?
A: It’s more difficult because the time it requires to do the bulk of the work coincides with finals. This job particularly doesn’t have a lot of hours or stress, but it’s just bad timing. It’s manageable — I mean, everyone at Yale is talented at multitasking. It’s really just an exercise in that.
Q: What advice would you give to other Yalies who are considering running a business?
A: I’m far from an expert on how to run a business, but I have learned some things. I’m certainly not better than anybody at Yale, but it’s all about balancing your time and finding an idea and executing it. A group of friends and I entered Y2K [an annual competition sponsored by the Yale Entrepreneurial Society] and placed third there two years ago, but we never followed through with the business plan. Starting a business is something anybody can do, but it’s important to be proactive. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I took some initiative. In terms of what I’ve accomplished, it hasn’t paid off monetarily, but in terms of experience it has paid off. It’s fun to look at what you’ve accomplished. The student service wouldn’t be here if my friends and I hadn’t started this and brought it here.