Grit and passion

Startup founded by former MU student-athletes makes successful exit.

Roo Storage co-founders. Left to right: Pravin Sivabalan, Eric Laurent, Joe McAllister, Kristen Rivers and Jake Hurrell.

Roo Storage co-founders. Left to right: Pravin Sivabalan, Eric Laurent, Joe McAllister, Kristen Rivers and Jake Hurrell. This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dec. 7, 2020

Four intense years of research, building a niche market, innovating and raising capital paid off for Roo Storage recently when Handled, a St. Louis moving and home services company, acquired the startup and hired its founders.

Before joining Handled, Roo Storage developed an online platform that connected people with extra space in their homes and businesses to customers in need of storage. Most recently, the company arranged storage space for more than 5,000 students displaced from their college dorms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Without Mizzou, Roo wouldn’t have happened,” said Jake Hurrell, a former Mizzou student and football player. “The university provided our team of founders the support and resources needed to build Roo’s foundation. That foundation is what allowed us to raise money, build a scalable business and ultimately led to our successful acquisition with Handled.”

Roo was launched with entrepreneurial support from experts at the Trulaske College of Business, the Missouri Innovation Center (MIC), the Mizzou Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) and other university resources. For a time, Roo was located in the MU Life Science Business Incubator, which helps young startups get their footing.

“We want to see our students use the true power of their thinking in very unconventional and innovative ways to solve problems that they encounter,” said Mun Choi, University of Missouri president. “Training the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators is top of mind for us.”

Read more from the Office of Research and Economic Development

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