How fitting: Students create new business to modernize formalwear rentals

Back when Parker Moore was a junior at Clover High School, he and his friends spent upwards of three hours driving to and from Rock Hill, S.C., to get fitted for, pick up and return their rented prom tuxes. Moore, now a senior marketing and management major in the Darla Moore School of Business, still remembers the frustration of the experience and has used it to launch a business.

Moore is one of the founders of Tux on Trux, a business designed to modernize formalwear rentals, starting in South Carolina.

"Prom itself is pretty expensive. But getting ready for prom can be even more of a hassle. I had to drive to the nearest tuxedo retailer three times. Once for fitting, once for pick-up, and another for drop-off. Then I realized everyone was else was doing the same thing. There had to be a better way."

During his junior year at Carolina, Moore took Dean Kress’ class on entrepreneurship. For a project, Moore had to create a business plan. As a result his business concept for Tux on Trux took form and was fine-tuned with Kress.

Tux on Trux isn’t your typical formalwear rental company. It doesn’t have a storefront, so it is able to cut expenses and offer tuxedo rentals for a lower price than traditional stores. Tux on Trux drives to a set location to fit customers and returns a week later with the tuxes. Instead of customers traveling to traditional formal ware rental stores, the tux rental truck travels to the customer. Once Tux on Trux receives an order and payment, it rents the tux from a wholesaler and gets it to the customer within a week.

Moore’s idea took off when he and his team participated in Startup Weekend in Columbia. Designed to help students launch new startups, the event features local entrepreneurs who offer feedback and advice. The Tux on Trux team was set to present the business concept MyUTrack, an app that helps students maintain schedules. Because the app already was underway, Startup Weekend organizers invited Moore to present a new venture. Moore pulled an old idea out of his hat.

With more than 50 ideas pitched, the Startup Weekend judges loved Tux on Trux and awarded it second place. This was all the motivation the Tux on Trux trio needed.

Last week, Tux on Trux fitted 39 students from nearby Irmo High School for prom tuxes. They recruited students in an entrepreneurship class as ambassadors to promote Tux on Trux within the school.

“There’s a lot of people here who are like, ‘I need a tux! I don’t know where to go,’ ” said Braxton McDuffie, a senior and Tux on Trux ambassador at Irmo High School. “And now students are like, ‘Hey, Tux on Trux, you should try it!’ ”

Tux on Trux also has visited two Carolina fraternities for upcoming formals and they are getting calls from college students around South Carolina and neighboring states to see if they could come to their universities.

Moore describes co-founder Jonathan Peterson as the talent that makes the MyUTrack and Tux on Trux websites run, while co-founder Jon Rice is the finance guy who ensures their idea and profits pan out. Tux on Trux has made it this far because of the team effort and collaboration among the talents of these different students, Moore said.

Collaboration makes the dream work

Kress encourages students to work with talent beyond the Moore School. About 25 percent of the students in his entrepreneurship class are not business majors. His class teaches students how to take a viable idea and think of a way to make it happen.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help students turn their ideas into successful businesses. The FABER Entrepreneurship Center helps develop, teach and mentor students and young alumni who are starting a small business. It began with a gift from Carolina alumni and entrepreneurs Tim and Karen Faber.

Students can turn to the FABER Center for feedback on their ideas. From there, students may develop these ideas further by applying for the Proving Ground competition or Startup Weekend, joining the USC Entrepreneurship Club or seeking invitation to join the fledgling company in the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator.

Learn more

For more information on how to get a traveling tuxedo truck to come to your location, visit the Tux on Trux website or call 803-627-1552. For more information on the FABER Entrepreneurship Center and entrepreneurship opportunities at the university, email Dean Kress.

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