How this lyricist paves her path to success despite setbacks
Sometimes, opportunity comes knocking. Other days, it’s bad luck darkening your door. Summer P., a 24 year-old artist living in Colorado, has hosted both visitors, and it’s her attitude towards adversity that’s made the biggest difference.
“Despite what’s going on, I will never give up on the things that I truly care about.”
One of those things is music. From a young age, Summer spent hours crafting her skills as a rapper and dreamed of devoting herself to her art. But she knew she’d need a steady full-time income to produce music on her terms, so she enrolled in a Graphic Design and Marketing program. Her thoughtful plan quickly unravelled due to forces beyond her control.
“I went to the Art Institute of Colorado, but I never graduated because our school foreclosed, leaving me with no credits,” Summer explains. “I couldn’t transfer them, because our school was no longer accredited, and they still wanted us to pay back our loans.”
The closure left Summer with no degree, limited job prospects, and debt. While figuring out her next steps, she took a job at the Cheesecake Factory. Dissatisfied with the pay and determined to achieve more, she started working at a bank’s call center where she figured she’d have more room to grow. Despite the higher pay, she remained restless.
“I’ve always been the type of person that’s like, ‘How can I get to the next level and do something that I enjoy doing?’”
A new revenue stream: “This is legit!”
It was during her time at the bank that she took a trip to California. Her sister booked a car for their trip and explained that the owner used an app called Turo to share his vehicle and earn money. This stuck in Summer’s head throughout the entire vacation. She’d recently purchased a 2019 Nissan Rogue and thought Turo would be the perfect way to start diversifying her income.
“I was like, ‘There’s got to be some money in that,’” Summer recalls. “I would like to make passive income and be able to do other things. So when I got back, I signed up my car and I was like, ‘This is legit!’ The requests were coming in so fast.” It didn’t take long for Summer to start pulling in around $1,500 a month. So she quit her job and started thinking about how she could build on that success even more.
Finding funding: “It was like God had answered my prayers.”
“I had just that one car that was making me money, and I needed to get to $2,000. So I started thinking about how I could really make this a business.”
She set up an LLC for her own car sharing company, Lightning Rentals, but she quickly ran into roadblocks while looking for financing. She didn’t have the best credit. Plus, lenders wanted to see two years of tax returns proving she had a steady income.
“I thought, ‘If I could just get a second car I would be making more than enough to cover all my bills,’” Summer says. “I was typing in cars on CarGurus, trying to find the most affordable car I could get. I was making calls to banks and people who invest money in startup companies, and they were always saying, ‘You need to have at least two years of tax returns for us to see how much you’re making’ and I was like, ‘I don’t have any of this!’”
“And then it was like God had answered my prayers. I read my Google articles every night, and one night it said, ‘Turo Seed Initiative is investing $1 million in Black, disenfranchised entrepreneurs’ and I was like, ‘You have got to be kidding me!’ I got up real quick, grabbed my laptop cause I couldn’t do it from my phone. I had to read everything! I read the whole article then I went straight to the link and I filled it out.
“I thought, ‘What are the chances that this would be happening when I’m looking for a way to get into the car sharing market?’”
A waiting game: “I just wanna be successful!”
Her excitement made waiting hard. In 2020, she’d finally managed to turn her lifelong ambition and work ethic into a source of revenue where she didn’t have to call in sick or request time off. Here was an opportunity to level up and start the journey towards financial freedom, which could mean early retirement for her mom, freedom to focus on her art, and time to pursue other projects like writing a book. These hopes made her impatient to get started.
“I was frustrated. I thought, ‘I just wanna be successful. I just wanna be able to do something with my life that I enjoy, and I know I would be the perfect candidate to do it, because this is a business to me.’”
“My sister came and sat on my bed and I told her I still hadn’t heard anything… and boom! The email came through: ‘Turo Seed Initiative: Congratulations. You have been accepted to be part of the program…’ and I started crying.”
Today, Summer is actively building Lightning Rentals and is in the process of conducting market research to figure out which cars to add to her portfolio to build on her current five-star reputation for excellent customer service.“It’s been the greatest experience to know that there are people out there paying it forward and who don’t mind helping other people get to a different position in their life. I wish I found it sooner.”
About the Turo Seed Initiative
The Turo Seed Initiative is a program launched in partnership with Kiva to help address wealth inequality in America. Its goal is to empower aspiring entrepreneurs, especially in traditionally underserved Black communities, to jumpstart their entrepreneurial engines and start building a small car sharing business on the Turo marketplace.