Ryan Cunningham

There are so many challenges and fast-paced decisions that need to be made when it comes to transportation that I feel I would be able to thrive and enjoy a position in this area.

- Student

For most students, the rigorous coursework at the Haslam College of Business creates a full-time job, especially with the usual commitments to student and professional organizations and volunteer work added in. Not so for Ryan Cunningham, a senior majoring in supply chain management with a collateral in marketing and a minor in both entrepreneurship and Spanish, who launched his own business called Campus Car.

Campus Car is a ridesharing service targeting customers in the Old City, downtown Knoxville, the University of Tennessee campus and Fort Sanders. Cunningham says that the limited geographical boundary allows Campus Car to set a flat rate, which sets it apart from other ride-sharing services.

“We don’t charge per mile or minute and though we have special event rates for game days and big campus events, we never surge price throughout the day,” Cunningham says. “Students are our primary drivers; however, the service is open to anyone who requests a ride within our boundary. If alumni are coming into town for game days and are looking to support the campus and a local hard-working student, Campus Car is perfect for them to get to campus from their downtown hotel or parking lot!”

While Cunningham loves his work with Campus Car and plans to continue to expand the service, his goal is to work for another company to gain additional experience.

“I would like a position in a smaller company coordinating the transportation needed within the supply chain,” he says. “There are so many challenges and fast-paced decisions that need to be made when it comes to transportation that I feel I would be able to thrive and enjoy a position in this area.”

Internships at both the Kroger Transportation Center as a supply chain coordinator and TNT Fireworks as a supply chain intern have allowed Cunningham to experience the supply chain sector firsthand and to confirm his choice in careers.

“Through both opportunities, I have been able to apply what I learn in the classroom directly to what I am working on,” Cunningham says. ”I was fortunate to have the Kroger internship before my junior year, therefore when I came back to campus and took some supply chain classes, I was able to apply what I learned in the career field to what I was learning in the classroom as well.”

While Cunningham’s supply chain experience has been noteworthy, his work with the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, winning a total of $20,000 from the Graves Undergraduate Business Plan and the Boyd Venture Challenge, has been transformational.

“The Anderson Center is the biggest hidden gem this campus has to offer,” Cunningham says. I am proud to say that within seven short months, I put together a company that would become the only company in the United States to have commercial transportation insurance for drivers 19 years of age and older. It was a huge hurdle for me to accomplish in seven months, but I look back and see how much work I put into it. I like to say that I came to the Anderson Center with merely an idea, and walked away from my first semester of involvement with a full-fledged company. Without their support, Campus Car would not be what it is today/”

Professors such as Tom Graves, operations director for the Anderson Center, and experiences like the Boyd Venture Challenge and the Graves Undergraduate Business Plan Competition, have impacted Cunningham far beyond the walls of the Haslam College of Business.

“Hands down, Tom Graves has impacted me the most,” Cunningham says. “His work with the Anderson Center and advising Campus Car has been so beneficial to me. It is such an honor to work with him and the fact that he is so willing to work with me even though I am not even one of his in-class students says a lot about him. He sees the entrepreneurial spirit in me that he has for the industry and wants me to continue to thrive with Campus Car in the future. I am so thankful for the work he does with the Anderson Center and in influencing me.”

To support the Anderson Center’s initiatives and students like Ryan Cunningham, please visit: https://haslam.utk.edu/anderson-center/donate