Gavin Escolar’s passengers say that he’s an engaging personality. He’s genuine, full of stories, and great at listening. That should come as no surprise; after all, personality is a big factor in the ride-sharing business, and Escolar’s quite successful.
How successful, exactly? He makes $252,000 a year, and no, that’s not a misprint. The comma’s in the right place.
There is, of course, a catch: Escolar has a genius business plan. He relies on Uber’s model, but most of his money doesn’t actually come from the app.
Escolar didn’t set out to become an Uber driver. He immigrated to San Francisco from the Philippines with dreams of starting his own jewelry business. However, he had trouble finding customers, and after struggling for a few months, he realized that he’d need another way to make money.
He started driving Uber, thinking of it as a way to pay the bills. But soon, he realized that every ride was an opportunity; every passenger wanted to talk, and when they learned that Escolar was trying to make a name in the jewelry business, they’d ask for his card.
Escolar didn’t have business cards, at first, but he picked some up.
Soon, he was printing catalogs and bringing showcase pieces along on rides. However, he never solicited; as he told Forbes, he didn’t really need to.
“I never solicit,” he insists. “I only keep subtle hints to spark conversation if they notice. If they don’t, they probably wouldn’t be my target customer anyway.”
Surprisingly, Uber approves of his side business, noting that they don’t officially employ Escolar; he’s an independent contractor, after all. The company holds up Escolar as a shining example of their business model.
Escolar’s name continues to spread, and he’s provided rides for a number of elite clients. That includes Shervin Pishevar, a legendary investor.
“I’ve had a lot of amazing drivers, but Gavin is one of the best,” Shervin told Forbes. “I was in his car with my daughter when I saw his jewelry designs. I thought they were wonderful and gave him a lot of encouragement to pursue his dreams.”
To grow his empire, Escolar began hiring salespeople, including people from his home country, training them on how to use Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing platforms. Each driver uses the same tactics: low-pressure sales, comfortable rides, and friendly interactions.
Escolar’s income is growing, and he’s sharing the wealth.
He’s been called an “Uberpreneur” for his novel approach to business, and he acknowledges that it’s a great concept.
“It’s a genius way to start a business nowadays, especially because nobody’s doing it,” Escolar told Forbes.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s really good at designing jewelry. His pieces have been featured in VOGUE India, and he’s building his social media presence by posting pictures of his creations. For Escolar, there’s no bad way to get new business—and there’s no such thing as a bad ride.