Any student who has ordered food online or had their laundry delivered can thank Campus Enterprises.
Campus Enterprises is a student-owned and run business currently comprised of 42 students, who each make a one-time $9,000 investment to become company shareholders. The company uses its money to provide a variety of services—most recognizably online food ordering and delivery through Radoozle and laundry services through Laundrymen.
“We act as a liaison between local Durham businesses and the Duke community,” said senior Mike Qu, a current member of Campus Enterprises’ board of directors. “The mom-and-pop shops around campus have to manage their normal operations, and maybe they don’t have the time or resources to commit to fully conceiving and implementing a delivery option. That’s where we come in.”
Campus Enterprises is most well-known for its online ordering and delivery platform. The company hires delivery drivers, conducts background checks, manages payroll and more for their clients. The student company also partners with Laundrymen, the laundry delivery service, to pick up and deliver laundry bags to customers, and its screen printing business produces custom T-shirts and other paraphernalia for many student organizations on campus.
“I don’t think there’s another opportunity on campus where you can get the real-world, tangible business experience that you’re getting with Campus Enterprises,” said junior and current CEO Bennett Varney. “One of our strongest suits is ability to be agile. Most of us are economics majors, but we all have some kind of entrepreneurial spirit.”
Campus Enterprises recruits and vets freshmen students during the Spring semester through a competitive application process, Qu said. Older members of the organization target potential members by pitching the company to other student groups in which they are involved. After receiving applications and resumes, active members conduct five-on-one interviews with the applicants before convening to select the new members. In 2012, Campus Enteprises received 60 applications, taking 14 new members. New members are then required to buy into the company with a $9,000 share price.
“It’s a sizable financial commitment, but we want people to take it seriously, and we want people to be involved,” said Qu, who has been a member of the organization for the last four years.
When active members graduate, they sell back their share to incoming members for the same price at which they bought the share—effectively guaranteeing that members’ initial investments are insured.
The ability to be involved in a real business, however, is what draws its shareholders in, Varney said.
“We sat down with [the Food Factory] at the negotiation table, hammered out a contract for delivery services, online ordering and marketing,” Qu said. “As a 21-year-old kid, I was writing legal documents and creating contracts with real business owners.”
In September 2011, the Food Factory’s sales were bleak and the Central Campus restaurant lost $15,000. It then partnered with Campus Enterprises, Qu explained. Campus Enterprises was able to create an online ordering and delivery services for the restaurant, which tripled its sales profits as a result.
“Food Fac is a pinnacle example of how we’re able to bring value to the Duke community,” Qu said.
Radoozle, an online food ordering website partners with Campus Enterprises to offers delivery from campus eateries like the Armadillo Grill and the Loop Pizza Grill to off-campus facilities such as Bread-n-Kabob and Chopped Greens.
Sophomore Sam Waters, who developed Radoozle in 2011 alongside sophomore Spencer Dahl, said he decided to work with Campus Enterprises in September 2012 because he had developed the technology, but Campus Enterprises had the relationships with the Durham restaurants that he needed.
“It’s been a really good experience working with Campus Enterprises,” Waters said. “The relationship works very well, and our incentives are aligned to make our goals happen.”
But most students are unaware of the role Campus Enterprises plays in services. The organization keeps a low profile by promoting their clients instead of their own name, Qu said.
“Traditionally, we haven’t branded ourselves as a company,” he noted. “We’ve branded our products and services a lot more. Food Factory is one of our biggest clients, and everyone knows about them, but they don’t connect our name behind [the Food Factory].”
Currently, Campus Enterprises is looking to expand its business. The company is in the process of developing an online ordering app for smartphones. In addition, it is hoping to expand its screen printing services to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus and heighten its marketing efforts to reach out to small family-owned businesses off campus.
Campus Enterprises does not currently own any offices. Instead they meet on a weekly basis in the Social Sciences Building on West Campus. Of its 42 members, currently 20 are “active,” which means that they are working on projects and receiving dividends, Varney noted.
“The return is based on dividends. Profits for each semester are divided up among the [active] members,” Qu said, noting that members are required to be “active” for at least three semesters.