University of Iowa alumni find a business opportunity on campus

DollarsUniversity of Iowa alumni, Josh Bass, Bryan Ilg and Tommy Le exited college and entered into one of the most difficult job markets in the last couple decades. Rather than wading into a life of interviews and job searching, the trio decided to take a different approach, the path of the entrepreneur.

The group had quite a few different ideas, but the one idea that they kept coming back to was a long term scooter rental shop. As tuition costs continue to increase, grants and loans decrease and gas prices stay flat, students are facing more and more challenges financially.

An increasing amount of students are choosing to give up the automobile lifestyle that previous generations viewed as a necessity for mobility and freedom, replacing it with walking, bicycling and public transportation. Scooters and mopeds, which are extremely popular in Asia, is now starting to gain interest domestically.

Depending on the state, most scooters do not require any special endorsements or motorcycle training to operate. A typical drivers license is satisfactory. Another cost saving factor is that insurance is often times not required for smaller scooters, typically 50cc or less in engine size. The University of Iowa classifies scooters as a motorcycle which require a class C parking permit. A 9-month permit is only $81 dollars, $9 dollars a MONTH! That is a huge savings over regular parking which can range from $4 to $20 dollars a day.

Bass, Ilg and Le’s business filled a need and their niche business was an instant success. The 30 scooters they launched with were rented out in quick fashion. The long term leasing option meant that customers didn’t have to have a large wad of cash or a loan to purchase a vehicle. It also allowed people who were just curious to try it out and decide of the vehicle would fit into their lifestyle.

The business soon had people interested in purchasing their rental scooters and later needing their vehicles maintained. What started as a small rental shop then expanded to include sales and servicing. Thanks to the networking and fundamental skills learned at University of Iowa, this group was able to see an opportunity, adapt quickly and capitalize on the situation.