yourself, Iddrissu adds. Those wanting to enter this type of business are going to need “a substantial amount of money that would be sufficient to run the business for at least a whole year without expecting to make a return as far as profit.” He suggests saving $200,000 to $500,000 for startup costs as well as establishing your business in a secure location where inventory will be safe.
In many ways, the big automakers are just now catching up with the customization craze. “Car customization is not a new trend; it’s been around for a while,” says Kimatni Rawlins, president and publisher of Automotive Rhythms Communications L.L.C. Rawlins, whose multimedia and marketing portal’s mission is to educate young, hip buyers about new vehicles and automotive trends, says, “the advent of new customization shows like Pimp My Ride is just now bringing to the forefront what has already been going on behind the scenes.”
Iddrissu warns that his facilities are nothing like those featured on MTV or The Discovery Channel’s Monster Garage. Roadstarr (www.roadstarr.com) deals strictly with customization of high-end, European automobiles such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Land Rover, and Lamborghini. And its clientele reflects it. The company’s celebrity roster includes Michael Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal, Ben Affleck, and rapper T.I. Glamour and glitz aside, Iddrissu expects gross revenues of about $4 million in 2005, up from $3.8 million the year before. With the two new locations set to open, Iddrissu expects to reap as much as $7 million in revenues this year.
Whether it’s customizing, personalizing, or restyling — all these terms are used to describe what people do to cars to make them unique. In 2004, car customization fans bought $3.6 billion worth of restyling specialty equipment, a niche market that has grown nearly 118% since 1995, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
DO YOU HAVE WHATIT TAKES?
Applicants who’ve made it through the doors of America’s top universities got there on more than a prayer and a superior G.P.A. More than likely, a glowing “it” factor helped put a stamp of acceptance on their applications.
Chioma Isiadinso, 34, is in the business of bringing that out of her clients. “Candidates who are savvy enough to learn how to sell themselves will get ahead,” says the CEO of EXPARTUS L.L.C. (www.expartus.com), an admissions consulting firm in New York City with an expertise in personal branding.
The Nigerian-born entrepreneur, along with husband Obinna, knows well what admission boards find attractive. As a former assistant director of admissions at Carnegie Melon’s Heinz School and former member of the admission board at Harvard Business School, she lent a critical eye to tons of applications. Three and a half years ago, Isiadinso combined her work experience with a psychology degree and a desire to empower people to start a company that’s helped 85% of her clients reach their dream schools.
“How do you stand out in a pool of 10,000 applicants? You have to tell a story and know how best to tell it, and that’s what we do,” says Isiadinso.