After spending many summers on Cape Cod with her family, Charlotte Richards ’13 says she has a pretty good grasp about what types of services would be most appreciated by tourists.
Having someone do your grocery shopping. Someone to fill your rental cottage with breakfast foods, wine, cheese, coffee, and fresh flowers in advance of your late arrival. A ready-made picnic basket for the beach. Bicycle rentals delivered to your door. A grill, firewood, s’mores, etc., for an outdoor dinner.
In other words, a personal concierge service. “The idea is to make sure your vacation is free of hassles,” Richards says.
With this idea long idling in her head, combined with a looming summer with no firm plans, Richards began chatting earlier this year with her friends, Tristan McCormick ’13 and Hannah Young ’13, about possibly launching a start-up business called The Cape Concierge.
“We were talking about what on earth we would do this summer, and we started talking about this casually,” Richards says. But come spring break, the idea firmed up.
McCormick says he and his partners have contacted local realtors and landlords to let them know about Cape Concierge. On their website, they describe themselves as “The Cape Concierge Team:” “Hailing from Bowdoin College in Maine, we met each other through our experiences planning, coordinating, and executing student activities on campus. Possessing entrepreneurial, determined, and energetic attitudes and experience with the Cape, we’re devoted to offering you the best possible experience the Outer Cape has to offer.”
The three juniors split up the duties of launching the business: Richards worked on the website, www.thecapeconcierge.com, McCormick designed brochures, and Young set up the online payment system. Come summertime, they’ll each be assigned to accounts to cover their clients’ needs. The three plan to live in Richards’ family home in Truro on the Cape, where they’ll get around by bicycle and car.
Their business model hasn’t required much start-up money — they’ve each invested about $200 — and they don’t have financial projections yet for their summertime earnings. They say that so far some of the challenges they’ve run into have included budgeting and pricing for their services, as well as hammering out kinks in the website. “There’s always more to do than you think,” Richards says, about starting a business.
Young says she’s excited to work with her friends this summer instead of heading out to do an internship or work at a low-paying job. “There’s lots of unpaid internships out there,” she says, “and it’s frustrating to compete for a job you won’t be paid for. This is an opportunity for us to go out on our own, have control over our work, and get real experience.”
“It’s better than getting coffee for people all summer,” McCormick concludes.