The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team. Guillermo Cornejo is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Guillermo Cornejo. I am the founder and CEO of Riders Share, the Airbnb for renting motorcycles. I grew up in Peru, where my dad gave me a ride on a motorcycle once. I got hooked to the feeling and I started riding later in the US. I created Riders Share because I didn't use my bike that frequently and renting one cost $200 a day. I thought the sharing economy would be able to make it more affordable to enjoy powersports.
What is your business advantage?
Our marketplace business model allows us to offer a wider variety, more inventory, more prices and better service than traditional motorcycle rentals. We also use machine learning to mitigate risk and reduce insurance costs.
What drives/motivates you to keep scaling your business?
The answer to this question changes every year as I change too. In 2023, my main motivation is seeing the emotional reviews people leave about our business. Powersports is not for everybody, but those that love it, it is sometimes their whole life. Providing our service really helps create meaningful experiences and I want to see our vision of accessible powersports come to fruition.
What advice would you give someone interested in getting to where you are?
This is not for everybody. I would pick a pure software business because what we are doing is so difficult (insurance, people trying to steal motorcycles, keeping both sides of the marketplace happy...). Starting companies is harder than you could ever imagine. I now have a lot of respect and I am grateful when I walk into a restaurant and everything simply works.
What has been the hardest part of running your business and scaling it to where it is?
The hardest part was providing excellent customer service while not having the resources to do so when the company was just starting out. In the early years, I had to field phone calls and emails almost 24/7 by myself while also trying to grow the company and raise capital (and file taxes and all those behind-the-scenes unsexy things entrepreneurs do). In our line of work, you often find customers at odds with each other and you in the middle; or people needing roadside assistance that are angry due to the unexpected issue. And I was getting a full time MBA at UCLA while doing all this!
What are 3 things you would say have contributed to your success the most?
The primary thing was stubbornness. I failed a couple of times due to inexperience, did not give up, and now we lead our space. Secondary was fundamental principle thinking: teasing out what's truly important and focusing your limited resourced on that. People give you advise and pull you in many directions without understanding of the full picture, and you have to say "no" a lot. In our case, the early decision to focus on providing insurance and spending resources on product paid off vs. at the time better funded competitors. Last but not least, I was very lucky to meet an excellent technical cofounder, in getting a lot of free press early on, and I was lucky in many other ways too.
Who or what has helped you the most in your journey so far?
I think the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the US as a whole is amazing. Texas HALO Fund gave us preseed capital. The MBA program at UCLA helped me make a connection with the Techstars program in Los Angeles. The program introduced me to dozens of investors and prepared me to raise from LiveOak Ventures. LiveOak introduced me to advisors from VRBO, Turo, etc. that helped us improve execution. Each of these major components/stages (knowledge, capital, etc.), of the journey would have been a lot less developed or non-existent in any other country.
Are there any "musts" you have on a daily basis?
What I love about entrepreneurship is the lack of routine. The only routine I have is doing accounting every month. In between, you jump between many different problems to solve (people, numbers, stopping scammers, etc.). It's rarely boring, and the journey has definitely humbled me, shown me how little I know about the world.
What mindset shifts were required to achieve the success you've experienced?
For me, taking all my life savings and taking on a bunch of personal debt to start a company was daunting. Most people don't make the jump because it is scary and the odds are stacked against you. There were a few different shifts that this country helped me make. First, I met a founder that had been on the journey, and it made me realize I could do it to, that it was within my league. Second, I learned how to de-risk a business before starting it, which helped me get over the fear. And last, the materialism in the US got to me, at the beginning of the journey I was definitely motivated by money because an ex said I couldn't give her the lifestyle she wanted. Ironically, so far I have made a lot less than if I had kept my corporate job, but I am so much happier.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
For marketplace founders, "The Platform Revolution" is a great framework on how to understand and maximize network effects. The "Book of Why" is also a fantastic read, if a little heavy, for leaders everywhere to optimize their decision making. I find most people aren't trained in strategy and decision making, but want to be in positions that require strategy and decision making. I would venture most Fortune 500 CEOs are not keeping up with the latest trends in decision making, and "The Book of Why" can help you catch up.
List the founders
Guillermo Cornejo & Brendon Lamb
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
From 20 to 120 depending on the season
# of Employees?
How much did it cost to launch?
About $50,000 but that wasn't enough to achieve profitability. Successful marketplaces in p2p vehicle sharing cost >$5 million to scale
How much have you raised?
Around $4.5 million
In the millions
In the millions
Any call to action?
Would love to connect to investors that ride motorcycles!