Lookout Mountain Helps Attract Top Talent for Area Start Up
Cameron Doody knows a thing or two about moving. Not only does he have personal experience with moving – having done it five times in the past four years – he’s built a successful business on it, Bellhops. Even so, his move to Lookout Mountain last year may be his last.
We realized almost immediately what an amazing place Lookout is,” says Doody, who relocated with his wife, Hannon and their young daughter, Margot. “The community has really been great to us, inviting us in and making us feel like we belong.
Hannon and Cam first moved to Chattanooga in 2012, thanks to fellow Lookout Mountain resident Ted Alling. As a serial entrepreneur and partner with The Lamp Post Group, Alling has played a pivotal role in Chattanooga’s efforts to become a start-up friendly tech hub. He has had an equally important role in Bellhops’ success as their first investor.
Bellhops CEO and co-founder, Stephen Vlahos knew Alling from a family connection and asked his advice on how to use technology to scale their burgeoning business. In less than two months, Alling wrote his first check. Five years later, the company has attracted approximately $28 million in venture capital.
While neither Alling nor Doody are Lookout Mountain natives, they share a deep affinity for their new hometown.
“When you get home in the evenings it doesn’t feel like you’re in Chattanooga; it almost feels like a vacation home,” says Doody. “You can sit on your porch and truly feel separated from the city, while still being so incredibly close. My commute is 12 minutes without traffic.”
The quality of life in Chattanooga is a huge draw for start-ups as well as talent looking for top-notch tech jobs without the headaches of gridlocked traffic and sky-high housing.
Our strategy for recruiting is just to get them on a plane,” laughs Doody. “Chattanooga is such a stark contrast to other tech hubs like New York, Chicago, Silicon Valley, Boston or San Francisco. We had a recruit in town this last weekend, he and his wife; Lookout might have been the clincher. The neighborhood, beauty, peacefulness…it’s hard to beat.
That was certainly the case for Bellhops new COO Katie West, who relocated last May from Groupon in Chicago. When she moved with her husband Sean, she had a 20 month old and was just weeks away from expecting her second baby. Even so, the young family had meals for weeks thanks to new neighbors.
“It really feels like a city from 20 or 30 years ago,” she says. “You have such wonderful access to nature – on the weekends you can walk or drive five minutes for an amazing hike that’s kid friendly. We now have a yard for our son to run around and explore, rather than growing up in the basement of our house in Chicago."
Lookout definitely played into our moving here. I haven’t seen a neighborhood like it anywhere, and I’ve traveled a lot,” she continues. “I couldn’t have dreamed a better place to live.
Called the “Uber of moving,” Bellhops streamlines the moving process for small to medium sized moves (1 to 3 bedroom apartments or condos). Currently available in 55 cities across the US, they employ 91 full-time and 30-40 part-time workers at their Warehouse Row headquarters. Their most recent rollout is their full-service move option, which includes a truck and labor for usually less than $400. Testing it last fall in Atlanta, Chattanooga and Nashville, they plan to expand the service throughout 2017.