It began as unlikely partnership in the fall of 2010. Jonathan was a sophomore Entrepreneurship major at Belmont University. James was a senior Marketing major at Lipscomb University. Both students were members of the tennis teams of the two arch rival universities, which at that time were still in the same conference.
But, Jonathan and James shared a common idea to start an online grocery store for college students. The idea was to provide college students a convenient and affordable alternative to on-campus convenience stores. They would sell snacks directly to college students and also to their parents bundled up in care packages.
Jonathan and James also have one other thing in common – they are brothers.
In January of 2011, the Murrell brothers teamed up to launch Mydormfood.com.
“We pooled our money to buy inventory,” said Jonathan, “Which we stored on empty bookshelves in our parents’ home down in Franklin.”
In the spring, they entered and won first place in a student business-plan competition, hosted by the Belmont Center for Entrepreneurship. With the $5000 they won from the competition, they spent the summer traveling to universities across the southeast promoting Mydormfood.com at college organization fairs.
Their business model proved to be so successful that by the fall of 2011, the online store had outgrown their parents’ bookshelves. So they decided it was time to take the next big step and moved their business into a 1500 square foot warehouse in downtown Nashville.
A few months later, the Murrell brothers launched their second online store, Candygalaxy.com—an online candy store specializing in bulk and nostalgic candy used for events and parties. Professional event planners, moms planning events, and corporate clients are the primary customers for this on-line store.
Candygalaxy.com quickly became their most profitable website.
“Once again, we were forced to find a new warehouse to store our ever-expanding inventory,” said Jonathan. “So we spent the summer before my senior year was researching commercial real-estate to find a new location.”
That summer the Murrell brothers also launched their third online store, Gizmogorilla.com. This site is an online store that specializes in gifts, gadgets, and office supplies, primarily for business clients.
At the start of Jonathan’s senior year this past fall, the brothers moved their three online stores to a 4500 square foot warehouse.
When the Murrell’s launched their first 0n-line store, Mydormfood.com, they did everything for the business. They stocked inventory, shipped orders, managed the website, and did the bookkeeping
Today they employ nine warehouse and office staff.
“We had our largest month in company history this past December,” said Jonathan. “So we are looking for a larger warehouse with plans to move in the spring or summer of 2013. We will just have to make sure that the move doesn’t interfere with my graduation from Belmont in May!”
While for many college seniors the spring semester is a time for resume writing and job interviews, Jonathan will be reading resumes and conducting job interviews to help staff their growing venture during the spring semester of his final year in college.