June 2, 2011
“We almost blew it. We won $25,000 through the MTV Movers and Changers competition. But we came seconds away from missing that opportunity,” said Aeron Glover, co-founder of How’s the Living, Inc., an online social network and resource center that gives students the opportunity to rate and review college housing.
“We had an opportunity to be a part of the MTV Movers and Changers competition,” he said. “We worked all night preparing the presentation for the next day. The day of the competition, we were delayed at the airport. When we finally arrived to the gate, boarding was closed. We had to convince the pilot somehow, someway to come back… and we actually made the flight,” said co-founder, Kaliv Parker.
Study Abroad Trip, Cold Showers and an Idea
In 2010, while other students were studying for exams or enjoying collegiate extracurricular activities, Aeron Glover and Kaliv Parker were busy building their new online company. Glover’s study-abroad trip to Spain introduced him to a unique problem in which he soon realized could pay tremendous dividends.
During his trip, after one too many cold showers, Aeron Glover noticed that student housing left much to be desired. But how would he share his experience with other students and help prevent others from enduring bad roommate and student housing situations?
Upon his return to the U.S., Aeron Glover, along with his good friend Kaliv Parker, set out to build How’s the Living, Inc. (howstheliving.com), a student-centric online community that now boasts 1,000 colleges and universities and over 20,000 residence halls across the United States.
Students Focused on Passion and Value Creation
The young company has come a long way in a few short months. “We don’t have a lot of experience, but our passion and our focus on creating value with our company really helps us to stay focused and make it happen,” said Glover. “As we ran into more challenges, we identified people in different specialties … in law and in business development, technology to help guide us.”
Both entrepreneurs attribute much of their success to strong mentor relationships they’ve cultivated over the years. “We have a really strong mastermind group, our mentors and advisors, who have had experience with starting very successful companies,” said Parker, a finance major. “They really keep us motivated; keep us on track to make the very best business decisions. We rely on them a lot.”
What does the future hold for their fledgling company? “We have plans to heavily leverage social media to reach out to students,” said Glover. “We will continue to raise awareness of the site, receive and implement feedback from users and become the number one resource when it comes to questions and concerns about student housing.”
Company: How’s The Living, Inc.
Founder, Age: Aeron Glover (21), Kaliv Parker (21)
Location: Knoxville, TN
Industry: Online Social Network (Technology)
Startup Year: 2011
Startup Costs: $75,000
How We Got Started:
I was studying abroad in Spain when I realized that there was not an online housing review platform for students. I reached out to Kaliv, now co-founder, about the idea and we realized that a similar issue exists for students that study here in the U.S.
From there, we built a very experienced board of advisors who have strong expertise in the areas of law, new business development, social media, and most importantly technology. After structuring the company, we begin to develop our website (www.howstheliving.com). Now we are focusing our attention on building critical mass and making our website user friendly. In addition to that, we have identified major investors that will help guide our exponential growth long term.
Best Success Story:
In November 2010 we won $25,000 as part of the Movers and Changers national business pitch competition hosted by mtvU and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
While searching for reviews of professors on www.ratemyprofessors.com we saw a mtvU Mover’s and Changers competition advertisement. Immediately, we begin to make adjustments to our current business plan and submitted our entry ten minutes before the deadline.
We prepared for our pitch by leveraging resources at our university. We practiced in front of many professors, students and administrators who offered criticism and feedback. We researched the backgrounds of the judges in the competition to see how we could relate to them and ultimately make them believe in our idea.
There was immense value in winning the competition. Aside from the obvious financial gain, we gained a very strong network of successful entrepreneurs who have guided our progress to date and mentored us both individually and collectively. Winning the competition also gave us a sense of confidence in our idea and our company.
Biggest Startup Challenge:
Overcoming the “Chicken and the Egg” issue by needing users to get content while simultaneously needing content to get users.
We’re still overcoming this challenge by doing research on different housing situations and placing that content on our website so that users don’t have to build our entire database. We want our users to help us fine-tune the database, but ultimately we want them to help build the community.
#1 Tip for New Entrepreneurs:
Learn fast. Become a master of your time. Enjoy the journey. Don’t be scared to take risks. Focus on the bigger picture. Often times we’ll look at the current circumstances and say we can’t do “X” because of “Y.” But if you focus on the bigger goal, you’ll find the resources (Kaliv Parker).
Also be comfortable with being uncomfortable but don’t be satisfied with being uncomfortable. As an entrepreneur there will be times when things are not comfortable and things are not going to be ideal for you. But at the same time, you cannot be satisfied with that current condition. You have to keep pushing forward (Aeron Glover).
Follow their journey. Connect with Aeron and Kaliv on Twitter @HowsTheLiving or via Facebook. Don’t forget to make our friendship official and join Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed entrepreneurs on Facebook. Did you enjoy this article? If so, subscribe to YFS Magazine and never miss an update.