Customers like to know who you are before doing business with you.
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Product / Service Offering: Auto Detailing
Co-founder Interviewed: Kenya Williams
Other Key Management Team Members: Demetria Williams (Wife)
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I was raised by my brother and grandmother. My mom had a stroke when I was 10 years old, losing her speech and paralyzing her right side. My father wasn’t around much, so I had to learn and grow quickly. When I was only 12 years old, my brother went into the Navy and I was the only man around the house. I had to mow the lawn, wash the car, and help take care of my mom. At this age I was just doing what I called regular chores but it turned out I was also finding my interest. I developed an interest in cars from watching my dad fix other people’s cars. I loved the new look on a car after it was cleaned.
I started this business two and half years ago running a van. Around the same time, my second daughter was born. I knew I wanted to leave my full time job as a Nuclear Engineer at Newport News Shipyard but I was unsure of the timing. It came at my lowest point. I tore my rotator cuff playing basketball in the summer of 2015; I had surgery in October 2015. It was during excruciating pain that I was able to hone in on my passion. I wrote down a list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2016 and it was to leave my full-time job as a Nuclear Engineer. I had a plan of leaving in June 2016 but the amazing opportunity came in May 2016. I left my job and found an auto detail shop that was not advertised. iShine For You Auto Detailing was established in a central location in Williamsburg.
My love for cars developed over the years. I stay motivated by my childhood and the obstacles I had to overcome.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
I established my company in June 2014. The idea for iShine came when I was able to figure out what I do the most with the least amount of effort.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
We seek cars that are dirty on the exterior and interior, such as a car that has been neglected over the years or a car that is being traded-in.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
My education separates me from my competitors; I am a degreed Mechanical Engineer.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge starting up was the unknown customers in the area. I had to establish a whole new customer base when I moved to Williamsburg. I overcame it by sending a friendly hello to my customers every month.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
I use my social media outlets and friends in the detailing industry.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
I used funding from my full-time job to get started. If I could do it differently, I would use a venture capitalist so that I didn’t have to deplete my savings.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Not really. The people at Hatch do a great job of informing you of the challenges they are facing.
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What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
I am grappling with continued growth. I am the new guy in town so it’s a slow process of growing since no one really knows me yet.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Customers like to know who you are before doing business with you. You have to treat them with respect and be a friend to them and not just take their money. You have to ask questions about their family, find out their hobbies, and how you can better serve them.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
iShine offers a complete exterior and interior detailing service to customers with cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, and RV’s.