These 30 rock
The 30 Columbians
Like many successful entrepreneurs, Brian Laoruangroch saw an opportunity where most just see headaches. “I’d lost or damaged five or six phones, and I began looking online for a replacement,” he says. “After comparing pre-owned phone prices on eBay with the price of a new phone, I quickly realized that this could be a viable business venture.”
In the summer of 2005, Laoruangroch decided to test his business concept by retailing phones on eBay with his parents’ basement as his headquarters. A year later he moved the business to Columbia and established a Web site, SellyouLarphone.com, to expand the operation. By early 2007 the future of the company was clear. “We decided that for future growth prospects that we wanted to actually open a physical location.”
Last year Laoruangroch founded the used-cell-phone retailer Green Mobile, with a kiosk in the Columbia Mall. Although the “green” concept — referring to both the environmental benefits of recycling phones and saving money — might attract customers, the company’s television ads could be responsible for a bigger splash.
The local ad featuring “Green Mobile Man” has people talking and laughing. What most might not know is that the guy in the green spandex superhero suit is Laoruangroch himself, who serves as president and chief executive of the company.
Some might chalk up the company’s success to a catchy commercial or a novel idea, but Jim Gann, a counselor at MU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, has another explanation. “Brian eats, sleeps, drinks and breathes his business,” Gann says. “I’d be surprised if he and the guys at Green Mobile weren’t very successful.”
With a tenacious work ethic and new capital secured this summer, the company opened a second location in Champaign, Ill., in September. By next year, Green Mobile Man won’t just be on local televisions but in six new locations.