Austin Newsom always knew there was a need for an independent diesel mechanic in the Charlottesville area, even at the age of 17.
That’s when he bought his first diesel truck and, like vehicles are wont to do, it broke down.
“There was no one to fix it,” says Austin, who was attending Albemarle High School at the time. “So, I fixed it myself.”
Now, at 26, he’s ready to start his own shop. For the past 4.5 years he’s been the in-shop mechanic for Foster Well & Pump Company, located in Earlysville, near Charlottesville, Virginia. With a certification in diesel and automotive repair and nine years experience, his weekends are already filled with side work on Jeeps and diesel vehicles.
Apart from the services offered by local dealerships, there are no other diesel mechanics within a two-hour drive, Austin calculates. “The dealerships are expensive, slow and don’t even have diesel expertise,” he says.
Thanks to Virginia’s Growth Alliances UpStart Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, he was able to tackle the next step in his business path: finding an investor to help him purchase a mechanic shop. The bootcamp gave him an opportunity to prepare his pitch for investors, including writing a business plan and even presenting to a local bank.
“I’m glad I went. I learned a lot and got more ideas,” says Austin, who drove over an hour to attend the in-person classes. “I realized some things I’d been doing wrong and have a new way to approach things now.”
Unlike some conventional startup courses, UpStart is focused on determining whether an idea is profitable. Some attendees find out their idea is more of a hobby than a business; they may enjoy doing it, but no one will likely pay for what they want to offer. But in Austin’s case, he received the confirmation he needed to his small business plans into high gear and put the pedal to the metal.
“The biggest thing I learned was to not give up. I have a good idea,” says Austin.“I look forward to owning my own business and working for myself.”
To reach Austin, call 434-249-0986 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Another Upstart Entrepreneur Bootcamp is being offered this May. For more information, visit www.thinkbiggervga.com/grow.