Michael J. is off to the races
As a former collegiate sprinter, Michael J. is always moving fast and working towards the next thing. The do-it-all host from San Leandro, CA is laser-focused on his entrepreneurial growth and leverages his ambition and competitiveness to keep his business ventures thriving. Though he now has his hand in multiple projects, Michael’s journey as an entrepreneur started with Turo.
Michael got his degree in kinesiology with a minor in marketing at San Jose State University. He’s a runner, and even though SJSU didn’t have a track team at the time, he found a way to satisfy his competitive hunger by running the 100, 200 and 4×400 events for San Jose City College. Though he originally planned to become a physical therapist, he spent his few years after graduating working in business development for Coca-Cola.
“But I was always into cars and always thought it would be cool to have my own rental car company, without the hassle of figuring out all the insurance and everything of course,” he laughs. Michael interned at a car rental company for a period during college, where he learned a lot about how rental companies work. “So when I first came across Turo it was like a ‘wow moment’ for me. I did a lot of research and decided car sharing was something I could do, using Turo as a springboard for my business.”
He first listed his personal car, a Ford Mustang, back in 2017. “Initially I thought if I could make some money on top of my full-time job that would be really cool.” After just a couple months of consistent bookings, Michael bought a second car with his hosting gig in mind. Again he did his research and found that a BMW 3 Series was likely to be popular with travelers in the Bay Area, then he was off to the races. “I got the hang of it quickly and it turned out to be the perfect way to begin my journey as a business owner.”
Expanding his business horizons
With diligent management and an eye for providing excellent service, Michael quickly saw success, and turned his gaze towards other ventures. “My mind expanded after I started Turo and saw the power of the sharing economy,” he said. “I thought, ‘If I’m doing this well with Turo, I can do this with Airbnb and other things as well.’” Today Michael manages a handful of investment properties in multiple states, invests in crypto, and consults for others trying to get started in the sharing economy.
“I’m definitely a serial entrepreneur and I’m looking to get into a lot more things as I go. But it started with Turo. Seeing how well that worked propelled me into my other businesses.” Michael first jumped into hosting with his good friend and business partner Joziah, and says that early experience was hugely influential for the young entrepreneurs. “Starting with Turo really showed us how to run a business, you know, it was just the two of us with a few cars between us. Managing the maintenance, communicating with our customers, learning how to do our business taxes — we were learning everything together.”
Now a seasoned host with over 1,000 trips under his belt, Michael has fashioned himself into somewhat of a sharing economy guru on the rise. “When I first started, not a lot of people knew about car sharing,” he said. “Now it’s different, but I’ve passed on what I’ve learned to a lot of people. Whether you’re building a business or just want some help with bills on the side, hosting can be super beneficial for a lot of people.”
Michael and Joziah even wrote an ebook to guide people getting started on Turo, which has helped numerous hosts launch their own businesses. “Becoming a host had a huge impact for me,” he said. “I’ve been able to help at least four or five people just in my close circle alone get started on Turo, and they’re all still hosting to this day.”
Michael was always into muscle cars, “And it’s been great because the cars I’m interested in for myself, like Mustangs and Camaros, are also really popular with guests. And obviously with the weather being so good in California, I made sure to start out by offering convertibles.”
“I’d say the biggest thing from this whole experience has been learning how to be a business owner. Especially starting out, my focus wasn’t to become rich doing this. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and getting a jumpstart on that by doing something I loved was really fun.”
Though he still has big ambitions, Michael is already fulfilling his dream of being a full-time entrepreneur, running multiple businesses and enjoying every minute of his hard-earned financial freedom.
“Being your own boss is really freeing. Betting on yourself and being in control of everything is definitely tough, but to me it means everything. It means freedom.”
Michael has capitalized on Turo hosting with hard work and a keen focus, and his future seems filled with increasing opportunities, which he is now free to pursue. “And I don’t think I’m overstating this,” said Michael. “It means everything to be free.”