took a job as a limousine driver to make ends meet.
After her first night on the job, Sweet was amazed at how lucrative limousine driving was. That’s when she decided to start her own limousine company. In February 1993, with help from her mother and brother, the San Francisco-native purchased her first limousine for $14,000, a 1988 10-passenger stretch Lincoln Continental and BAYE (which stands for Bay Area Young Entrepreneurs) Limousines was born. The company grossed only $24,000 in its first year, and much of that went to repair the limousine.
In the beginning, Sweet was a one-woman enterprise managing everything from advertising to negotiating service contracts. “At times it got overwhelming but I had my mother and brother to help me,” says Sweet. Her brother helped drive the limousine and her mother pro-tided mechanical expertise when the cat needed service. “My mother kept me from being overcharged by mechanics,” she explains. Sweet’s mother, who formerly worked for a car dealership, buys and sells used cars as a hobby.
For the first two years, Sweet operated as an independent limousine driver. In 1996, she decided to expand her company and, fortunately, there was an opening for limousine services at the San Francisco International Airport. The permit, however, required that the applicant have at least 10 limos and drivers, Sweet found nine drivers willing to subcontract their services to BAYE Limousines in short order, and won the permit, One of only eight limousine companies permitted to advertise in the airport, BAYE’s business picked up sharply within months. Today, the company uses 16 limousines and has 18 drivers. Last year, revenues reached $312,000.
RACING TO REVENUES
Craig Reynolds, 25, also felt the sting of corporate America, but in a much different fashion. Reynolds, an AA Pro BMX Racer, is ranked in the top 20 athletes on the bicycle racing circuit. Typically, successful racers receive sponsorship from bicycle and other BMX-related manufacturers to ride, wear and endorse their products. Sponsors pay for the riders to attend races and generally include performance bonuses. Most recently, Reynolds was sponsored by Badd & Co., a bicycle manufacturing firm.
In 1993, after two years with the company, Reynolds felt it was time to renegotiate his contract. “I had proven my value to the sponsor, and I didn’t feel comfortable that I was being paid less than some amateurs,” says Reynolds, a native of Park Forest, Illinois. Badd & Co. didn’t think so, and wouldn’t give Reynolds a better contract.
Reynolds terminated his contract, and the search began for a new sponsor. (Coincidentally, Badd & Co. went out of business shortly thereafter.) But this wasn’t the first time that he felt he’d been treated unfairly by a sponsor in his 15 years of BMX racing. In fact, he’d coined a motto to characterize his deal-rags with sponsors: “There’s no loyalty m BMX.” After his latest experience with sponsorship, Reynolds’ parents suggested that he cash in on his popularity by starting his own bike company.
Later in 1993, with an $8,000 loan from his parents,