Bellhops Moving, a startup based in Freight Alley, set a new fundraising record for the area on Tuesday with a $31 million Series C round.
The cash infusion, led by Advance Venture Partners, brings the Chattanooga-based startup company’s investments to a total of $51 million since it was founded in 2011.
Found by two college kids in Alabama as Campus Bellhops — a way to help college students get into and out of their dorms — Bellhops brought on on ex Uber executive Luke Marklin last year as CEO to help the company scale.
“Moving is an $18 billion industry that people loathe,” Marklin told Forbes shortly after the news was announced. “It’s a big industry with very little technology and a big opportunity to disrupt.”
Bellhops, like Uber, does this with an app that matches movers and drivers with people who need them. In fact, Bellhops was the first digital moving platform to enter the market, the company says.
Through its app, Bellhops finds drivers and crews in a person’s area, then uses algorithms determine how long the move will take, along with the cost. Users can rate drivers, and the real-time reviews also wrap in performance ratings from fellow Bellhops. In fact, there are dozens of pieces of data derived from each move that Bellhops uses to drive company performance.
The system appears to work – Bellhops says more than 20 percent of its customers use its services for multiple moves within a year, unheard-of in the moving space.
Bellhops connected in 2013 with the Lamp Post Group, a Chattanooga-based VC firm.
The latest funding round will be used to grow the number of employees and open a second office in Atlanta. The company already operates in 31 cities and 13 states.
Average compensation is around $21 per hour with tips, according to company posts.
Previous venture rounds were led by Binary Capital ($6 million) and Canaan Partners ($13.5 million).
The moving industry is ripe for disruption, but so far few startups have entered the space. Most, like Seattle-based Dolly, have set their sights on the niche furniture market instead of big house moves.