How Car Sharing Helps Small Businesses Grow
Let’s be honest: Starting a business is not a breeze, but the pride of seeing an idea come to life is worth the drive. These small businesses grew with smarts, savvy—and the power of car sharing. Pounding the pavement, they hit the road to work face-to-face with customers and engage with the community in tangible ways. Check out some of our favorite (and most inspiring) stories.
We care about the health of ourselves and the environment, but it’s not always easy to find fresh, local food that supports both. Tom McDougall started 4P Foods to address both problems by connecting people with easy access to healthy food. The four P’s—Purpose, People, Planet, and Profit—form a solid vision for the business and drive towards a more sustainable agricultural system.
Here’s how it works: Tom and his team find farms local to their home base of D.C. and assemble custom farm shares of vegetables, meat, and/or eggs, delivered straight to customers’ homes and offices. As 4P’s member base grew, so did their wheels—they went from fitting all their deliveries in a KIA Sorrento, to needing the bigger Honda CR-V, all the way up to a roomy Zipvan. When they decided to buy a van of their own, they even secured the loan due to their proof of concept, as achieved with their fleet of Zipcars. Another Ziptrip, another healthy member, another step towards a stronger food system (and local economy).
ROTI MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
Roti started with one restaurant in downtown Chicago, eventually growing to 19 locations stretching as far as the East Coast. As a commitment to wellness, they source responsible ingredients for the menu, like organic chickpeas, seasonal vegetables, and antibiotic-free chicken. Truly dedicated to efficiency and sustainability, employees make catering deliveries by foot when possible, but tap into Zipcars and Zipvans for further treks. Meals and wheels when you want them? Dig in.
GREEN COUCH PROJECT
Filmmakers Michelle Allan, Jonathan Krauth, and Adam Johnson had a secret weapon: a quirky green couch that hid somewhere in each of their videos. Dubbed their “Easter egg,” they finally had the idea to make the couch the star of the show. They launched their passion project, the Green Couch Sessions, and started on a mission of making truly authentic performances of upcoming artists all around Vancouver (including a pre-Call-Me-Maybe Carly Rae Jepsen).
They load up the couch in the back of a Zipcar pick-up truck and bring it to beautiful locales in the city, from misty forest scenes to empty warehouses on the edge of town. Have couch, will travel—and continue to make an impact on the Vancouver indie music scene.
The Chief Composting Officer (yes, that’s a real title) at Compostwheels used to wake up before dawn and drive his station wagon around Atlanta, collecting pails of compost dutifully left out by his members. The five-gallon buckets, full of things like produce scraps and coffee grounds, go on to produce high-quality soil chock-full of vitamins and minerals. The only problem? He was putting a lot of mileage on his personal car, and his station wagon started smelling like…produce scraps and coffee grounds.
The solution: He joined Zipcar and now stacks the pails in the (open-air) back of a pick-up to make his rounds. But the best part happens off the road. After three weeks, Compostwheels delivers the rich soil to nearby Little Farm, where it helps grow some of the freshest produce in the area.
Coffee and bikes share a lot of fans, so Mike and Melissa Salvatore merged them with the opening of their Chicago storefront, Heritage: Espresso bar up front, bike shop in back. Customers can bring in their two-wheeler and set up with a laptop and a pastry while it gets a tune-up, or just come for a coffee and some good conversation.
With its success, they got the idea for a second location with a different set-up, including a way to incorporate Melissa’s passion for photography. Enter Heritage Littles, a shop for little tykes and bikes, fit with a photo studio for kids and—what else—a milk and cookie bar. They’re now packing up a Zipvan and growing to a third location, Outpost, where Mike promises to “take the coffee more seriously.” We’ll drink to that.
Behind a window decorated with flamingo cutouts hides the one-of-a-kind workroom of David Toran, arguably the best chandelier expert in D.C. Given his unique craft, David has restored a significant number of D.C.’s chandeliers throughout his career, all delivered—very, very carefully—by Zipvan.
His long-standing membership has granted him the kind of friendship that places whatever Zipcar he needs in the spot behind his house. With a commitment to working by hand, he delicately treats chandeliers from hotels and homes all over the city—and keeps the craft alive by training apprentices.
When wife-and-husband team Debbra Mikaelsen and Philip Solman looked for a career that would allow them to work together, they struggled to find a match for their sales and writing skills, until they found Edible Communities. The magazine network, which has regional publications across North America, aims to influence the way people buy, cook, and eat, so Debbra and Philip started a branch for Vancouver & Wine Country.
Through the magazine, they connect producers and consumers, but with Zipvan, they’re able to connect the publication to more readers than ever. What started as a 32-page quarterly magazine has grown to an 80-page publication that goes out six times a year—with Philip at the wheel.
Learn more about Zipcar for Business.