We talked to Quentin Karn, founder of Red Solo Cleaners

It is possible to start your own business, even when you’re taking 20 units

Ever hosted a party at your house? Then you know how disgusting and daunting clean up can be the next day.

Quentin Karn, recent UCD graduate, decided to try and solve that problem by founding Red Solo Cleaners during his time as an undergraduate. We caught up with the business mogul and asked him some questions.

So what did you major in at UCD?

I graduated with a BS degree in Managerial Economics. I came to Davis with just a basic idea of what I wanted to do, but after my first quarter I knew I wanted to do business economics. My passion for economics drove me to take a majority of my upper division managerial economics courses in my first two years at Davis and as a result I was able to graduate in just 3 years at the age of 20.

What exactly is Red Solo Cleaners?

Red Solo Cleaners (RSC) is a Davis, CA based peer-to-peer collegiate after party cleaning service. RSC strives to offer a robust and efficient online platform for college students to (1) seek cleaners to clean their house/apartment after a party and (2) sign up and bid for open cleaning jobs (i.e. become a cleaner). RSC’s primary service is its website (www.RedSoloCleaners.com), which matches cleaners with cleans.

Similarly to other peer-to-peer companies such as Uber and Lyft, RSC coordinates independent contractors (cleaners) with cleans within the area. RSC does NOT employ cleaners and instead facilities between the coordination of these two parties. RSC offers a standardized pricing model, determined by the number of residents or number of bedrooms associated with the address being cleaned. RSC is currently operating at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and UCSB. RSC has plans to expand to other college campuses, such as Chico and USC, during fall of 2016.


How did you start it?

I actually co-founded Red Solo with Josue Garcia who is currently in his 4th year at UC Davis. Josue came up with the idea and brought me on board in November of 2015. At that point it was just a few sentences on a word document. Over the next two months we worked a few hours each day coming up with a more in-depth and efficient business plan. By January of 2016 we had created a website, a pricing model, and we finally launched our service at UC Davis.

What was the experience of being a student and a full time entrepreneur like?

At the time of starting Red Solo I was a full time student taking 20 units, the Scholarship Chairman of the Interfraternity Council at UC Davis, the Scholarship Chairman of the Beta Epsilon chapter of the Theta Xi Fraternity at UC Davis, and spending a minimum of two hours a day working on Red Solo Cleaners.

Starting up Red Solo Cleaners was far from easy and a very time intensive endeavor, but I’d say that my love for problem solving and creating something new was really what drove me. From my experience, starting up a company is really just a process of determining what problems need to be solved as well as finding creative ways to solve them.


Any advice to those looking to start a business in college?

Get as much feedback from as many people as you can regarding your idea, this can lead to some great discussion and can ultimately be a great path toward finding a compatible business partner. Focus on the short-term projects, but never forget the vision. Setting goals and objectives as well as documenting your thoughts/process is an amazing way to efficiently expedite this process. Don’t spread yourself too thin and always focus on what matters most. Always make decisions in regards to profitability as well as improving margins. Something might seem like a great idea but if you cannot monetize it or use it to improve your product or service, you might be better off spending your time doing something else.

What’s the grossest/worst thing you’ve had to clean up?

When we first launched the company, Josue and I did the cleans ourselves so that we could get a good idea of how long they took, what supplies would be needed, etc. This allowed us to better understand our core business as well as develop assumptions on what our cleaners should do at each clean. The grossest thing we ever cleaned was about 800-1000 cigarettes that were spread out all over someone’s carpet. Mind you it was in a room that was no bigger than 160 sq. ft., there must have been a cigarette every inch of the room’s floor.

What is the one thing that you wish that people who call you in to clean up after their parties would do differently (if anything)?

I guess our biggest gripe would be when customers place a cleaning request the morning after the party. We require that cleaning requests be submitted 24-hours before the time of the clean, otherwise it becomes very hard for us to complete the request.


Any plans for future ventures/what are you planning on doing next?

Yeah, I am currently working on stating up a commercial real estate company that offers office spaces in the Bay Area that cater toward young professionals and small start-ups. While this is not a new idea, I have come up with an innovative way to offer affordable office space to recent graduates as well as young professionals, who have often been unable to afford private office spaces due to high rent prices as well as mounting college debt.

UC Davis