World Record Holder Continues to Build

To remedy their boredom one summer afternoon in 2009, Jeffrey Handy and his high school buddies decided to get a trailer, fill it with cardboard boxes, and build a giant fort in his friend’s backyard. To their surprise, the fort built from two hundred boxes attracted more than three hundred spectators and earned them the record for world’s largest cardboard fort.

“We created the fort just for fun, but we wound up creating a whole new world record,” Handy says.

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While in high school, Jeffrey Handy and his friends created the world’s largest cardboard fort. (From left: Nick Clark, Bryson Frehner, Russell Steed, and Jeffrey Handy.)

The fort’s success was one of many contributors that sparked his interest in entrepreneurship. In high school, Handy enjoyed starting numerous projects, including 5K runs for his community as well as fundraising events. Now the 2015 BYU entrepreneurship graduate is working on his own startup.

“I really believe that any business can make a big difference if you are building something awesome that people love and surrounding yourself with truly incredible people,” Handy says.

When Handy came to BYU, he had two goals: to study in the Marriott School of Management, and to build another cardboard fort because dozens of schools, including BYU, Harvard, UNLV, and Duke, had already beaten his record.

With high hopes of achieving his first goal, on his first day at BYU, Handy went to visit the Marriott School dean.

“The dean politely listened to me as I let him know why I would be a good candidate,” Handy says. “Afterward, he directed me to the admissions office, where I learned that you don’t just go and ask the dean to join the Marriott School; rather, you need to finish the prerequisites and apply.”

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Handy worked hard and consulted with professors to choose the emphasis that fit him best: entrepreneurship. Once he was in the program, it was time to get started on his second goal.

At the end of his junior year, Handy got back together with his high school friends and created a fort with 12,301 boxes to take back the record. They also tied a cause into their event and invited sponsors to help raise money to build a girl’s school in India.

“Hopefully, we’ll have the record for a while,” Handy says. “But if someone beats it again, I guess we will just have to make another fort!”

Like with the cardboard fort, when Handy faces challenges and competitors, he is willing to start over and work harder. In his most prominent entrepreneurial pursuit since graduating, Handy created the app Blacktop, which allows local basketball players to find pickup games in their area.

“Without the Marriott School, I wouldn’t be doing what I love,” Handy says. “Being a part of the school gave me access to an amazing mentor and even introduced me to all of the investors that I now have at Blacktop. I love the network there because they care and are always ready to help.”