By now, most people are familiar with companies like Uber and Lyft that allow people to earn some additional cash by driving others to their destinations. But one person took their side gig to a whole new level, leveraging his position and making $252,000 last year. While not all of the funds were compensation for driving, his approach is remarkable.
Gavin Escolar moved from the Philippines to San Francisco, California, and started his own business. But, when times became tough, he got set up as an Uber driver to help him bridge the gaps in his income.
Escolar, who is also a jewelry designer with his own business, was struck by how many people engaged him in conversation as they rode to their destinations. “I thought they would be silent or on the phone,” said Escolar, “but most people wanted to talk.”
He went on to say, “When I mentioned my jewelry, they asked for business cards, but I didn’t have any.”
Instead of simply acquiring some business cards, Escolar went the extra mile. He turned his car into a mobile showroom, displaying various pieces and making catalogs available to those who rode with him.
Escolar said the key to his successful business model involved making his jewelry accessible to riders but not pushing his products onto them. He also said the approach is less expensive than traditional advertising and more organic.
“It’s a salesman’s dream,” Escolar asserted. “I have 10 minutes to make an impression. Would that happen if I went door-to-door? Or if I bought tiny online ads? My way, I get quality time with quality leads. Best of all, I’m being paid as I do it. It’s like Uber is providing a base salary before I make any jewelry sales.”
His Uber driving also gave him the opportunity to network with numerous high-profile executives, including fashion editors with Vogue and investors.
Uber said they are fine with Escolar combining his jewelry business with his time driving for them, and his customers seem to approve based on his high ratings from his previous passengers.
Other Uber and Lyft drivers can replicate Escolar’s business model if they have a side pursuit that could potentially provide value to riders and could be similarly advertised within their vehicle.
According to his website, Gavin Escolar, “jewelry designing allows me to freely express myself.”