How often have you found yourself with a friend visiting the Rose Hill campus for the weekend, and nowhere for him or her to sleep? This inevitable dilemma is one that Ross Garlick (GSB ’15) and Alex Bourland (GSB ’15) have set out to conquer.
These two entrepreneurs are the co-founders of FURI Rental, a company that allows students to rent a variety of items that they might need occasionally during the semester, but that they don’t need all the time — like an air mattress for that visiting friend. They opened their rental business on the Rose Hill campus this past spring, and it has expanded rapidly since then, growing to more than 50 customers.
You can trace the idea behind FURI Rental to Ross, an applied accounting and finance major and entrepreneurship minor from Manchester, England. A self-described “Proud Ram” who has always embraced challenges and taking the road less traveled, Ross launched his freshman year in a big way: by being chosen for the competitive Compass Fellowship program.
Introduced at Fordham in fall 2011, the Compass Fellowship selects 15 freshmen who want to become social entrepreneurs and connects them with mentoring and startup help. Each week, the fellowship offers these students the chance to meet with a CEO, author or social activist to discuss themes that range from setting goals to incorporating a business. They also receive support from five sophomore mentors, each of whom was a Compass Fellow as a freshman. The program’s goal is that by the end of each student’s freshman year, he or she will be in a position to start a socially oriented business.
Ross, who, as a sophomore, is now a Compass mentor, developed the seed of the idea for FURI Rental during his fellowship year. He took on a business partner, his roommate Alex, to get it off the ground.
Grounded in the concept of asset sharing, in which consumers gain access to goods they need for a reduced cost, FURI Rental offers Fordham students air mattresses, Swiffer Wet Jets and laser lights, each for $5 for up to three nights. FURI Rental is especially committed to customer service, offering door-to-door delivery and pickup for everything it rents. The company describes its product line as items for the “perfect guest experience” at Fordham.
With expansion in mind, Ross and Alex recently debuted “Friends of FURI,” a network of FURI representatives in different residence halls on campus to help store and deliver the products to customers. The company has even grown across boroughs, with Friends of FURI reaching Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus this month. Ross and Alex have high ambitions, with long-term goals of expanding the product line and possibly extending their services into the Bronx community.
The concept of social entrepreneurship has become increasingly common in the past few years, as Tom’s Shoes and Warby Parker provide inspiration. Beyond donating a portion of their profits to a charitable foundation, these companies are founded on a “social” business model, which revolves around benefiting society. Ross remarks on the fulfillment that the company has brought to him, knowing that he is doing what he can add value to the Fordham community. He advises others who want to do good and give back that “there is no better way to do it than being an entrepreneur.”
To find out more about FURI Rental, visit http://www.facebook.com/
Photographs courtesy of Ross Garlick.