As you know, I love doing stories on entrepreneurs from different parts of the world, especially from geographies that have insignificant presence on the entrepreneurship map of the world.
Here’s a wonderful story from Nashville, Tennessee.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
David Stange: I was born in northwest Florida. I grew up in a family in the hospitality business. My dad has been a hotelier my entire life. He moved around a little bit with his various roles.
When I started college, I looked around where I wanted to go. My parents made the mistake of taking me to the University of Alabama during sorority recruitment week. There were thousands of girls running out of the football stadium. That was when I decided that that was where I was going to school.
When I was 14 years old, my parents told me that I had to get a job that summer. My whole journey that summer led me to where I am now. My first job was working on the beach. I set up beach chairs and equipment, rented kayaks to vacationers in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, a 2,400 acre property in northwest Florida.
I started working there on my 14th birthday. I worked there every summer until I graduated from college. That’s almost 10 years of working and having a firm grasp on beach operations and how the whole ecosystem works. In college, I started two companies.
When I decided to go to Alabama, my parents were not thrilled because I had to pay out-of-state tuition. I found a loophole in the tuition system that has since been closed. I found out that if I got a job, owned property, and got involved in the local community, I could petition Alabama to grant me in-state tuition after my first semester.
That’s what I did. I bought a house. I got a job. I petitioned the university. After an appeal, I was granted that status. My job was providing alcohol to all of the skybox owners at the University of Alabama. At that time, there were about 90 skyboxes.
All those people are allowed to drink during the game. However, that costs millions of dollars. The people that have millions of dollars don’t necessarily want to take their Friday and go stock their box full of alcohol. They would ask me to do it. I was 18 years old. I would go to a liquor store and buy alcohol for these people. I’d put it in the skyboxes. On game day, they would pay me.
By the end of my senior year in college, we formalized the process. I had a 26-box truck that I’d use to deliver the alcohol. That was a lot of fun. It was something I enjoyed doing, but there’re only eight football games a year. There wasn’t a career there, but I had a 26-box truck. I started moving people.
I was the very definition of a rogue mover. I didn’t have the proper insurance and licensing. I didn’t have anything. It was just a way for me to make money. I graduated from college. I have a degree in Biology and Chemistry. I was trying to figure out my next move.
My mom was also an entrepreneur. She said, “You got this moving business. Is there anything to that?” I moved to Nashville and eventually grew that business to being in five cities. I sold it to a large moving and storage company out of Dallas, Texas.
Sramana Mitra: When did all this happen?
David Stange: I started the moving company in 2007. I sold it in February of 2011.