Filling a Need for a Ride Home From College the Key to Alum’s Business
By Tierney Callahan-Harding ’10
Dr. Keramat Poorsoltan, adviser to the Frostburg State University Entrepreneurship Club, presented the issue of transportation during a meeting one day in 2006, having witnessed a recurring shortage of transportation opportunities, leaving many students unable to make trips home throughout the school year.
Club member Eskat Asfaw ’09, who had dreamed of becoming a self-made entrepreneur, saw this as an opportunity to create and build something that he could be proud of. Asfaw’s dream became a reality when he created his College Shuttle, a service that has become an efficient and economical way for students from FSU and other colleges to travel home throughout the semester.
As Asfaw’s creativity began to ignite, he understood that he would need assistance if he really wanted this business to work. One of the club’s main goals is to have students learn from one another, and that is exactly what Asfaw did. Fellow club members and current students Theo Gardiner, Terryl Monroe and Mhabhushah Koffa, who had created a business of their own, TMG Entertainment, offered a rich background in marketing and promotional services. By sponsoring and supporting various charity events such as Hoops for Haiti and the African Student Association Showcase, TMG had already established credibility on campus. Asfaw saw this as a way to expand College Shuttle and its marketing opportunity at FSU.
Fliers were put around campus to promote the business, and many students showed interest in the service within the first week. Since the business started to form quickly, the first College Shuttle trip was made in Asfaw’s own car. Soon social media efforts on Facebook, Twitter and the TMG online talk show expanded the business to an even larger market. Because of this, more and more FSU students became attracted to this new service.
The Entrepreneurship Club gave Asfaw another tremendous opportunity. Funds from the club sent him to a conference where he learned about creating a business. He gained a substantial amount of knowledge on how to build and develop the company and used this information to expand even more.
The business began to flourish. A 14-passenger van was purchased to meet the growing demands of students on campus. It didn’t take long for other colleges to learn and become interested in the service. Garrett College and Potomac State College were the first to request assistance on their campuses as well.
College Shuttle founder Eskat Asfaw '09 sits at the wheel of a College Shuttle van. He is joined by his partners, from left, Mhabhushah Koffa, Theo Gardiner and Terryl Monroe, all current students.
By taking a practical approach, College Shuttle aimed to “save students time by taking care of the little things.” This slogan has helped expand the company to other services such as College Tours – taking prospective students on campus visits – and College Storage, a newer venture that stores a student’s college items over the semester breaks. Picking up and delivering all belongings to the new dorm or apartment is a unique service, another indication that Esfaw’s company looks at opportunities from a student’s perspective.
Asfaw’s capstone management class gave him the opportunity to perfect his business throughout the semester. In his required paper, he included a three-year financial business plan and established his product, service and market. He then took time to create a website and project any financial profit or loss.
“Asfaw was very enterprising; he had a vision of a company and worked diligently to make it successful,” said Dr. Marty Mattare, his professor in that class.
Asfaw hopes to expand the business even further. In five years he predicts that College Shuttle will assist students at as many as 50 colleges. He currently has routes to seven, including FSU.
Asfaw was also recently honored by FSU’s Trident Initiative as Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Dr. Ahmad Tootoonchi, dean of FSU’s College of Business, said that such creative thinking, problem solving and leadership are what the College of Business is trying to encourage both in and outside the classroom.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the most significant keys to the growth of economy in the United States,” he said.
For more information about College Shuttle, visit collegeshuttles.com.