"The Management and Entrepreneurship Department, the faculty and staff, have helped me grow as a student and as a business owner."
Management & Entrepreneurship - Student
When Haslam College of Business senior management major Kaleb Winders and his girlfriend, Jordan Jones, attended a professional football game in 2017, he unknowingly changed the course of his academic career.
“My parents convinced me to continue my education, but I really began to feel at home during college when I started my entrepreneurship classes my sophomore year,” said Winders.
Winders had dreamed of building his own business, and, like many entrepreneurially minded students, instantly saw a problem as an opportunity to provide a solution.
“When we got to the football game, they told my girlfriend that she could not bring her purse into the stadium,” said Kaleb. “Our only choices were to throw it away or take it back to the hotel.”
Winders walked the purse back to the hotel, missing the first half of the game. He felt that there had to be another solution to this common dilemma and began to form a plan—a start-up business named Rolling Storage. Winders’ business partners with event venues to provide onsite storage of event-goers personal items.
“The idea had been in the back of my head for a while, but I didn’t pursue it until I was encouraged by my entrepreneurship instructor, Haseeb Qureshi,” said Winders.
Winders connected with the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, winning both the Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition and the Graves Business Plan Competition in 2019. He hit the ground running, turning his $6,500 winnings into a minimally viable product to road test the idea.
“I bought a used trailer and spent two weeks outfitting the entire thing by hand,” said Winders. “I’ve always built stuff, including a tiny house I lived in for a while, but nothing I’ve ever built was as satisfying as this. It was something I was building to solve a problem and prove to people that I had a viable solution.”
He partnered with the Knoxville Civic Coliseum as the venue’s official event storage provider in December 2019 and has provided service to over 1,200 customers.
Building upon this success, Winders entered the spring 2020 Graves Business Plan Competition, presenting proof of his business idea’s success. He won first place and $5,000. He plans to use his winnings, plus the earnings from the business, to upgrade the trailer.
As Rolling Storage grows, it has gained attention from venues located in the Southeast and the Midwest. Winders is exploring licensing options as he moves the business forward.
He continues to work closely with the Anderson Center as he explores options for his business’ growth.
“The Anderson Center has been tremendously helpful,” said Winders. “The pitch competitions, the faculty and staff, Lynn Youngs and Tom Graves, have done so much for me. The connections and feedback are incredible,” said Winders.
Winders credits his management and entrepreneurship classes for not only directing his plans for his business, but also providing the encouragement he needed to move forward with his education.
“The Management and Entrepreneurship Department, the faculty and staff, have helped me grow as a student and as a business owner,” said Winders. “They’ve helped show me where I need to go and help me get plugged in. It’s been very beneficial for my personal growth as a student.”