Nick Friedman, 32 & Omar Soliman, 32

3 Posted by - September 29, 2014 - 2014, Tampa 2014

Nick Friedman, Co-Founder and President, College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving

Everything changed for Nick Friedman before his senior year of college. Friedman decided to start a business with his buddy from high school, Omar Soliman, using a beat-up cargo van to haul people’s trash.

After that, the entrepreneurial seed was planted. When Friedman and Soliman graduated, they both started jobs in the corporate world, before realizing those weren’t the careers they wanted. Friedman remembers emailing Soliman, telling him he wasn’t feeling fulfilled and asking him when they could start a business of their own. “Omar emailed back in all caps, ‘my timeline is right now,’” Friedman says.

So they officially started the business in 2005, and decided to begin franchising in 2008. Since, the duo has built Tampa-based College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving to 52 franchises nationwide with $25 million in revenue.

The growth hasn’t always been easy, Friedman admits. “We started doing all the work ourselves. And probably fired ourselves three to four times,” he says. “But then we learned how to work on the business, not in the business.”

In the next three to five years, Friedman aims to grow to 150 franchises and more than $100 million in systemwide revenue. He admits they are “guilty of chasing new ideas or ventures,” but they keep coming back to their original model of hauling junk and moving.

Friedman says there are some key differences between him and Soliman. “He’s the Apple, the iPhone. I’m the PC or Blackberry,” Friedman says. Soliman is the visionary, better focused on marketing and customer service. On the other hand, Friedman describes himself as more systemized, focusing on the “nuts and bolts” like operations, finance and sales. “I’m pretty obsessive compulsive and driven, while Omar is laid back and go with the flow,” Friedman says.

Friedman says he’s “always thirsty for learning” and constantly trying to surround himself with successful people and reading books to continuously improve. When he realized he was an entrepreneur, “a lightning bolt went off,” Friedman says. “Oh, I guess that’s what that word means.”

— Traci McMillan Beach

Omar Soliman, Co-Founder & CEO, College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving

Omar Soliman is an idea man. The summer before his senior year of college, he was looking for ways to make extra beer money.  He often helped his mom with furniture deliveries from her store, and people would ask if he could remove the old couch that the new couch was replacing. That’s how he came up with the idea to start removing people’s junk.

Soliman knew he needed a good name to catch people’s attention. So he invited some friends over to help him brainstorm. “With a couple of beers we got a little more creative and wacky with the names,” he remembers. That’s when it hit him: College Hunks Hauling Junk.

Soliman posted flyers around the neighborhood with his cell phone number and recruited a few friends to join him in hauling junk.

When Soliman returned to school, one of those friends, Nick Friedman, persuaded him to enter College Hunks into a business plan competition. Soliman won first place and $10,000 to kick off the business. Friedman was also the one who helped persuade Soliman to leave his corporate job and officially launch the business.

The duo was denied by five credit companies during their search to buy a loan for a truck, but it didn’t stop them. Finally, they persuaded Bank of America to give them a loan. “They should put us in a commercial or something,” Soliman says.

After growing exponentially in Washinton, D.C., Soliman and Friedman started to look elsewhere to expand and create a call center, which is how they ended up establishing their headquarters in Tampa in 2008. Now the company has 52 franchises nationwide with $25 million in revenue.

Soliman insists the good ideas haven’t stopped coming. “100% I don’t think I’ll ever not be an entrepreneur. I won’t stop trying to think of the next idea,” he says. “A lot of great ideas have been born at a bar with a glass of beer.”

— Traci McMillan Beach

Q&A – Nick Friedman

City of residence: Tampa

Twitter handle: @NickFriedman1

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Years on the Gulf Coast: Six

Marital status/children: Married with child on the way

Alma mater: Pomona College

Best place to network: Young Entrepreneurship Council (www.theyec.org)

Coolest business experience: Getting to speak on a panel about entrepreneurship at the Whitehouse at an event that was sponsored by MTV.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: In order to grow you must work on your business not in your business.

One website that makes your job easier: www.ifa.org (International Franchise Association)

One community group you’re most involved with: Goodwill

Favorite off-hours activity: Playing basketball

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Charles Barkley, Ellen DeGeneres

Best award you ever received: INC Magazine 30 Under 30

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: ‎Skydiving

What’s at the top of your bucket list: Getting a private plane

What new skill would you like to learn: Golf

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Justin Timberlake

If I had a magic wand I’d: Fly

 

Q&A – Omar Soliman

City of residence: Tampa

Twitter handle: @OmarJunkMan

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Years on the Gulf Coast: 6 years

Marital status/children: Married with 3-year-old son

Alma mater: University of Miami

Best place to network: International Franchise Association Conference

Coolest business experience: Having our book published

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: People don’t fail, systems do.

One website that makes your job easier: rocketlawyer.com

One community group you’re most involved with: Goodwill

Favorite off-hours activity: Playing with my son

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs

Best award you ever received: INC 30 Under 30

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: After college I moved to Florence, Italy, to help a friend open a restaurant

What’s at the top of your bucket list:  Going to Japan

What new skill would you like to learn: Learn French

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Adam Sandler

If I had a magic wand I’d: Have a College Hunks truck on every corner!

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