Gonzalez founded Music City Sanitizing Services last spring, adding six employees and growing a list of clients, including a prominent bus company in the Nashville, Tennessee, area.
How do you grow a startup business in your hometown from a college campus 500 miles away?
Eduardo Gonzalez — who founded Music City Sanitizing Services in Nashville, Tennessee, last spring — makes it seem simple. According to him, it’s about hard work and time management. During this academic year, the business has grown to include six employees and an expanding number of clients in the Nashville area.
“People think you don’t have a lot of time in college. I would disagree with that. There’s plenty of time. You make time,” said Gonzalez, an engineering major, president of Elon’s men’s club soccer, a fraternity member and “saxophone enthusiast” on top of being an entrepreneur.
Gonzalez began Music City Sanitizing Services at the height of the pandemic, investing his savings from a previous business into electrostatic spraying equipment and protective gear. Electrostatic spraying works by negatively charging the disinfectant spray, which causes it to actively coat surfaces and eliminate viruses and bacteria. The technology offers a more efficient way to sanitize surfaces in high-traffic businesses, such as gyms, banks, clinics and daycare centers.
Recently, he entered a major contract with a busing company that serves tour groups, sports teams, private schools and Vanderbilt and Belmont universities. Music City Sanitizing employees are disinfecting around 75 buses daily, with more expected to be added to the fleet as schools and locations reopen fully. Gonzalez pursued that contract for nearly a year.
“At the beginning, I didn’t see any progress at all with the business. It took a month and a half to get our first customer, and that was after going out every day handing my business card out and buying them doughnuts and things,” Gonzalez said. “I have trouble being patient sometimes. I expected a little bit more progress at the beginning, but you have to give it time. You have to be patient. Things don’t happen overnight.”
His senior year at Elon has widened his perspectives on life and business.
Finding dependable, hardworking employees is difficult. Once you hire them, treat them well so they know they’re appreciated, he said. “It’s the little things that make the difference, like buying them lunch sometimes. Just making sure they’re taken care of,” he said. Gonzalez hired a friend who was taking a break from college to manage Music City Sanitizing Services, and having them to lean on has made his remote operations possible.
Still, he spent spare hours outside class and other commitments on the phone, answering emails and video conferencing with employees and potential clients. There were times he had to travel home for business emergencies.
Elon’s break days in March coincided with the first week of the busing company contract. When a newly hired and trained employee was a no-show, the manager worked a 15-hour shift to cover the absence and Gonzalez drove home to work the rest of that week and part of the next while searching for new employees and attending classes remotely.
But that sacrifice is worth it for the experience he’s gained. After graduation, Gonzalez plans to continue expanding Music City Sanitizing Services while pursuing employment in engineering or finance. His long-range ambition is to found a renewable energy startup.
“People are afraid to take risks, but you have to go out there and do it,” Gonzalez said “Right now, we’re at that sweet spot where we don’t have kids or family to support, so there are fewer consequences if we fail. We’re young enough to make those mistakes and learn something. I’ll take the risk because I’ll get experience no matter what. You just have to go for it if you have a good idea.”