posted on April 19, 2021

A new host strikes while it’s hot

The craziness of this past year has been tough for many people in many ways, but for some, it’s opened up unforeseen opportunities. Santo A. came to the US from South Sudan when he was young to join family living in Minnesota, where he finished his formative years and got a marketing degree at St. Cloud State.

But coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, Santo was never a huge fan of the Minnesota weather. “I didn’t like the cold, I was definitely not used to it,” he said. During the pandemic, Santo saw an opportunity to move south. Like many of us, he started working remotely last spring, and luckily his company allowed him to relocate! So last year Santo was able to escape to sunny South Florida while keeping his job in banking.

“Oh man, I’m loving the weather and I’m right by the ocean now, which is so nice.” Santo’s soaking up more of the Miami scene than just sunshine though. “I’m into cars and I’m seeing a lot of sports cars every day, which is not what you see in Minnesota. It’s so cool!”

Santo A. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

For one of his first trips as a guest on Turo, Santo booked a Mustang while visiting Miami last year before he moved. “I thought, ‘I gotta figure out how to get into this game,’” he said. Then while browsing the site looking at cars, he discovered the Turo Seed Initiative, a program designed to empower historically disenfranchised entrepreneurs with access to wealth-building opportunities on Turo. “It kinda sounded too good to be true at the beginning. After looking around I decided it was too good of an opportunity to not try out,” he said. “I was already in Miami and had a flexible schedule because I’m working remote. It was a perfect way to get started.”

The first step of the program is raising a loan on Kiva. For Santo, it went swimmingly. “It was magical. I didn’t know if I could pull this off… my friends and family were so supportive when I told them, which was amazing because I didn’t have any product, just an idea,” he said. In all, 242 lenders invested in Santo and he raised the $15,000 loan well before his deadline.

Hitting the ground running

With the loan in hand, the next step for Seed Hosts is finding a car to share. “I knew from experience, coming from Minnesota, that visitors in Miami want to be able to take the top down. So I was always planning on getting a convertible Mustang.”

Since he knew exactly what he wanted, Santo shopped around and found a great deal on a red 2020 Mustang convertible, with the most efficient engine option, Ford’s 4-cylinder EcoBoost. Though it’s one-year used, “it looks pretty much new.”

Understandably, the Mustang is a popular choice among tourists just about everywhere in the US, but Santo didn’t know his selection would pay off so quickly. “I got my first booking literally two hours after I listed the car,” he said. “And those guests even told me they were specifically looking for a convertible Mustang.”

That was back in mid-March, and now Santo’s Mustang is booked almost solid through the next two months. He doesn’t have a personal car, so with so many bookings on his calendar, he’s now looking into getting a second car for himself. But he has even bigger plans for this new car sharing business. “I’m hoping to eventually get up to 10 cars and quit my day job!” he said. “It’s working so well right now and I’m learning fast, so it’s only up from here.”

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.

Steven is an avid car guy and content maker at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.