4 Lessons Learned From Entrepreneurs in Cars

by Richard Cooper, an EO Toronto member and CEO of TotalDebtFreedom.ca

Ever since I had a poster of that white Lamborghini Countach on my wall as a kid I’ve always been a huge car fan.

It wasn’t until I became an entrepreneur that I decided to have “idea sex”, and mash-up my two big passions.  So Entrepreneurs in Cars was born.

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Many things in my life are energy vampires, but spending time around fast cars, and successful entrepreneurs isn’t, it recharges me, and some of the best times I had last year was filming episodes of entrepreneurs in cars.

The concept is simple, put the entrepreneur in the passenger seat of their own car, and record a video interview allowing them to tell their story.

Ian Farr, CEO Bimmian.com, EO Toronto

I met Ian at an EO dine around, and we hit it off immediately.  A successful entrepreneur, and car enthusiast, Ian was a natural fit for my first episode.  When he told me to meet him at his aircraft hanger to drive his 620hp supercharged BMW M3, I was giddy to say the least.

He created his multi-million dollar BMW parts business off the back of meeting his own car needs.

Lesson learned:  Fulfill your own need, and if other people want what you are doing.  Sell it to them.

Peter Ferrante, CEO Ferro Canada, EO Toronto

Peters 1968 Dodge Charger brought me back to high school; we could have easily been best friends in our teens cruising in muscle cars.  He described his car to me over the phone as a “Chip Foose” style muscle car with over 540hp.  It had a custom motor, modern suspension, brakes, and transmission.

You know the guys in the movies that wear hazmat moon suits that clear out contaminants like mould?  That’s Pete’s business.  If he could write a book, he would call it “The biggest loser” because he’s failed so many times.

Lesson learned:  Never give up, pound the pavement, be relentless.

Lance Kotton, CEO Titan

A South African native, and a pure petrol head.  He’s a very successful entrepreneur and a McLaren MP4-12C spider owner; a $400,000 hand-built super-car.  It was a missile, and if you’ve seen the video, I almost lost my driver’s license that day.

Lance was a private lender dabbling in mortgages and his family and friends wanted in.   One day he just woke up and decided he was going to do a better job at it, so he created Titan, and essentially created a brand new investment product in Canada.

Lesson learned:  If people want something that doesn’t exist, make it, and give it to them.

Roy Deeks, Master Distributer, Titan

Even though Roy is my dad’s age, we hit it off when we first met 10 years ago.  Like many lifelong entrepreneurs he has had it all, and lost it all.  Today he is extremely successful, yet operates on a frugal level.

His car was a 2002 Corvette Z06 he imported from the US, and before you snicker, drive one.  They are the performance bargain of the century.   During our drive Roy shared many of his wins and losses, and when we started talking about some failed partnerships, he distilled his experience with partnerships by saying “partnerships are ships that sink”.  I know from experience, that picking the right business partner is the most important thing when building a business.

Lesson learned:  Treat picking a business partner, like you would treat picking your wife.

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