How a Miami native puts plans into action
The first class of entrepreneurs to join the Turo Seed Initiative is already running full steam ahead with their newly expanded car sharing businesses! We caught up with one of these Seed Hosts, Dennis, who successfully raised his Turo Seed loan on Kiva in January. His savvy game plan should be motivating for all small business people on the come-up.
Dennis is a Miami native who played football in college and professionally, before getting his early start in sales selling Cutco knives. “That actually helped a lot with my mindset going into the corporate world,” he says. “Everything was based on commission, and I kind of fell in love with that because you only eat the food you make.”
He then spent some years working in staffing, and he also draws on that experience as he launches his own ventures. “Being in the corporate world has prepared me for entrepreneurship. I know how to navigate building relationships, and I’m not scared to reach out or go after it.”
Dennis started out with car sharing in 2019; he had quit his day job and didn’t want to get rid of his new Chevy Camaro, which he was still making payments on. After doing some research on Turo, he listed the Camaro and was amazed at its performance. “My first month I got so many bookings I could hardly drive my car. I saw the profit I was making and thought, ‘Imagine if I had three or four cars.’”
Expanding & leveraging local connections
Fast forward to late 2020. With over 30 trips and All-Star Host status under his belt (five-star reviews across the board!), Dennis was still averaging a sizable profit each month with his Camaro. He discovered the Turo Seed Initiative and applied immediately. “I thought it was a pretty cool idea, because I knew it was a way for me to expand my portfolio. But honestly I just applied and didn’t think much more about it,” he laughs.
Once his application got approved and after consulting with a Turo Account Executive as part of the program, the opportunity afforded by his $15,000 loan became real, and Dennis’ game plan quickly came together: he’d use his first business loan to expand with multiple economy cars to keep his return high. But he thought if he had one vehicle more on the premium side, that would help drive his business’ visibility. So he sold his Camaro and bought a 2019 Mustang convertible, right as he completed crowdfunding his loan on Kiva. “It all kind of came together at once, and as soon as I sold my Camaro I knew I was really in this.”
The Mustang is understandably popular with guests visiting the sunny shores of South Florida, and Dennis knew it was a good bet for turning a profit. He used part of his loan to buy his second car, a 2019 Chevy Sonic, which he says will be listed soon.
In his past corporate career speaking with client companies and brokering deals, Dennis says he noticed all those companies had multiple streams of income and multiple channels for marketing. “And that always stuck in my mind. With my hosting business, my method to not have a one-lane business is to start by building relationships in my community.”
As a local, Dennis knows many under-the-radar hot spots and has connections with some of those businesses. Sharing a muscle car in Miami, Dennis sees many out-of-town visitors. “My guests want to know what’s going on in Miami, so I tell them the best spots to eat and where to party — Miami is a nightlife city.” Using his insider knowledge and connections, Dennis has built a growing network of fellow business people who help lift each other up and support each other’s enterprises. “I can see this getting really big and I hope to add a lot more cars. But it’s not all about making money for myself, it’s also about becoming a big driver of business in my community.”
When asked about expanding his small business during the pandemic, Dennis had a clear and positive outlook. “COVID really taught us how to scale things down and become more efficient in life,” he says. Dennis has seen success with running ads online to help market his cars. “So the money from the loan is not only for cars, it’s also for marketing and photos and things like that,” he says. “Now that I’ve got the funding and I know the marketing works, my goal is to have three to five cars pretty soon. Once I get to that point, there’s no telling what I can do.”
Apply to become a Turo Seed Host
Interested in starting your own car sharing business on Turo? Apply now for an interest-free loan through Kiva and take control of your financial future.