KNOXVILLE — Do University of Tennessee students Aeron Glover and Kaliv Parker have what it takes to turn their idea into the nation’s next big business? You can see for yourself. The first episode of mtvU’s Movers & Changers program is now available online at http://www.moversandchangers.com/.
The next episodes of Movers & Changers will air on Dec. 1 and 8 on mtvU. The final episode in which the winners will be unveiled will air on Dec.15th. All episodes can be viewed online.
Glover and Parker have developed a company that runs a website for students looking for quality housing worldwide, are among the three finalists in 2010 Movers & Changers competition, a national business pitch competition sponsored by mtvU and the New York Stock Exchange.
mtvU is a division of Viacom’s MTV Networks which produces 24-hour television channel that is available on more than 750 college and university campuses across the United States.
The series features Glover and Parker, along with the other two teams, and follows them as they go to New York City, where they will ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, attend the NYSE Movers & Changers Forum, and present their plans to a panel of industry executives. The winners receive $25,000 in seed money to further develop their companies.
Glover and Parker, both juniors from Memphis, have founded How’s the Living which runs a website to help college students learn more about student housing around the world. Glover, who is part of the Chancellor’s Honors and Haslam Scholars programs and is majoring in industrial engineering, is the company’s chief executive officer. Parker, who is majoring in finance, is chief financial officer.
The idea originated last summer when Glover was an exchange student in Spain. He was paired with a host family but had little information about what it would be like living in a private home in Spain. For instance, he had no idea that the home’s shower would allow him only a minute of hot water.
“I kept thinking, ‘There’s got to be a better way to prepare for living abroad,’” he said.
Glover and Parker first developed an information-sharing website geared to U.S. students embarking on study abroad trips. That website allowed students to rate and describe their host family experiences — much like the “Rate My Professors” website allows students to rate and provide anecdotal information about college faculty around the world.
Since then, Glover and Parker have expanded their website to allow students to share information about host families, college residence halls and apartments worldwide. For instance, website users looking for an apartment can find information other students have posted about the cost of rent, cleanliness, parking, noise, staff and room size at different complexes.
A pilot version of the website launched this fall. Several companies already have bought ads on the website.
As they’ve developed their company, Glover and Parker have received guidance from the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the College of Business Administration where they first presented the idea at the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Anderson Center. They also have been helped by Lee Martin, research assistant professor in the College of Engineering who has been working on the college’s Engineering Entrepreneurship program. A successful businessman and entrepreneur and former director of Tennessee Technology Development Corp., Martin is the founder of Interactive Pictures Corp. (iPIX), a company that’s internationally recognized for research and manufacturing of 360-degree navigable “photo bubbles” and interactive video for the World Wide Web.