Nassau, Bahamas – Amid a pandemic that saw his sales shrivel up like a water-starved sprout due to global travel restrictions, entrepreneur Benjamin Davis remained undeterred. Instead, he spent his days in his home office relentlessly strategizing to grow his electric vehicle fleet for Drive Green, the first solely electric, zero-emission car rental company in the nation.
Growth during a pandemic seemed like an audacious concept. But Davis, fueled by the boom his company experienced in its first year of business, was focused on readying Drive Green to capitalize on the rainfall he anticipated would ensue when the world emerged from its pandemic drought.
On July 30, 2018, Drive Green welcomed its first customer. Less than a year later, it would be the first company to receive funding from Access Accelerator to the tune of $200,000. “We were funded by Access Accelerator and two other investors in 2019. Sales were strong initially, and we were booked solid through March 14, 2020. Then the cancellations started coming in,” shared Davis.
Just 21 when he had the initial idea for Drive Green in 2017, Davis spent countless hours formulating the business plan he would then shop to investors for two years before getting funded. The plan was not only the blueprint for his current success but also served as the final project that earned him an “A” in one of his university classes.
“I had to develop a detailed business plan for my University of The Bahamas entrepreneurship class, and I thought to myself, ‘let’s find something that I like,'” he shared. “I’ve always been into technology and cars, and I had recently transitioned from a Nissan Note to an electric car and instantly realized how fun they are to drive.”
Davis hit the pavement with his business license, business plan, and youthful zeal in tow – selling his dream at investor meetings and shouldering the weight of the consistent ‘nos’ he initially received.
The work was seemingly endless but fun. Davis picks up the business journal he kept during the infancy stages of Drive Green and flips through the pages. He chuckles as he reads the entries, “July 6, 2017, spent the whole day at Road Traffic. July 24, picked up OT grant letter. August 21, created a list of hotels to establish charging stations,” he shares.
“I went to a few places to get funding, and it was hard at first, it was a lot of back and forth with no progress – things didn’t come together until I had the Access Accelerator funding, that’s when other investors started looking at me seriously,” he shared. “One of the places I approached before Access Accelerator actually gave me funding after I went through the Access Accelerator program.” With funding secured, Davis quickly expanded his fleet from two to six vehicles.
Now a UB graduate with a dual degree in Music and Business Administration, Davis works full-time for Drive Green. “In terms of the day-to-day operations, it’s just me – car washing, marketing, being the CEO. But I do lean very heavily on my current Access Accelerator advisor Deborah Gibbs and my previous advisor Phyllice Bethel. I can always call on them for strategic advice. My dad is also a key factor, and we hash through different plans to grow the business,” he shares.
The most pressing plan now, increase the fleet from six vehicles to ten by December. “We made it through what I hope was the worst of the pandemic. We didn’t have any issues with our loan payments, and we want to stay on our good financial track and make smart decisions now that we know the demand is there, so we’re investing in getting additional cars in.”
As more electric vehicles enter the local market, the demand for charging stations increases as well. Davis, committed to delivering exceptional customer service, has installed electric car charging stations throughout the island; the most recent location was Fusion Superplex. He has set his sights on developing more symbiotic relationships with established companies across the island.
“The biggest challenge has been making connections with some of the larger businesses such as the mega-resorts. Unless you know somebody, or you’re already a big name, it can be difficult to get in the door,” shared Davis. “Now that Access Accelerator has established its post-funding department, they are working to help facilitate connections to progress business.”
Asked whether he plans to establish another business in the short term, Davis shared that he is laser-focused on growing Drive Green to compete with international rental companies.
“I am always looking for the next thing to make my business stronger.”
About The Access Accelerator
The Access Accelerator is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC). The Centre works to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas. Visit us at www.accessaccelerator.org.
Assistant Director of Public Relations
Bahamas Small Business Development Centre