The Journeys of Small Business Owners

Small businesses drive economic growth, create jobs, and make our communities stronger. Leading up to Small Business Saturday®, we’re celebrating driver-partners on their own journeys of owning and operating small businesses. From product developers to website designers, partners turn to Uber because of the flexibility and economic opportunity provided by the platform. We’re thankful to have these entrepreneurs and business owners driving with Uber as they pursue their passions.

Trudy Martin

Trudy

Experiencing Trudy’s infectious personality first-hand, it’s apparent that when she puts her mind to something, she will succeed. The idea for her product, Pikbox, came to her when she was digging through her purse and she found dozens of loose floss picks at the bottom of her bag. In a flash, she pictured a device that could keep the floss picks organized and sanitary.

After buying supplies and attempting to build a prototype on her own, Trudy reached out to a web designer who created images that she submitted to a company that specializes in prototype development. From there, she found a manufacturer who was able to bring her vision to life. A supervisor in a radiology department for 15 years, she left her job and “stepped out in faith to bring her product to life”. She took out her life’s savings, cashed in her 401K, and put all she had into getting her mold made and ordering the first 10,000 units. Trudy even traveled to China to see the first Pikboxes come off the assembly line!

For the last several years, Trudy has hit the ground running – selling her products at Walgreens and The Container Stores, launching an ecommerce site, and constantly spreading the word on Pikbox. She recently started driving with Uber on the weekends as a way to earn extra income to help fund her business. Ever the people-person, Trudy loves being her own boss and interacting with riders. She has been pleasantly surprised that her passengers are often interested in helping her small business succeed after hearing her story. Who wouldn’t be pulling for Trudy with her inspiring story?

Check out Pikbox’s website to learn more about Trudy.

Bob Alexis

BobBob is the first to say it. He flunked retirement. After decades in the medical field, Bob retired to to sail off into the sunset on Lake Michigan and travel with his wife of 45 years, Jennifer. But he explains that “it was the downtime between the two that just killed me”. He saw an advertisement for Uber and told his wife that he was considering driving to fill the time and meet new people. Her only request? To find new restaurants to try in Chicago.

And so Bob started to drive on the platform. As a way to kick off conversations, he asked riders about their favorite restaurants. Bob found that when he asked riders where they liked to eat, their faces just “lit up”. Bob wrote down the recommendations at stop-lights in a little book and quickly collected pages of recommendations. Within weeks, riders started to ask Bob for other recommendations from the back seat, and he realized that he could be onto something. He created the website Back Seat Review, which showcases restaurants that receive positive reviews from riders. Bob created a formula in which restaurants have to receive multiple positive reviews from riders who have actually eaten at the restaurants to be featured on the site. The list is ever-changing and apparently quite accurate. Bob explains, “I get a lot of food critics and restaurant reviewers looking at the site while they are in the car and they always exclaim that I nail it with the recommendations”. This doesn’t surprise Bob, who always replies that “the riders are the ones who are spot-on”.

In Bob’s case, his small business was born out of conversations with riders. He credits driving with Uber with “keeping him young and informed” and believes that “the back seat of an Uber is the best place for trending anything – the smartest people are in the back seat”. Bob declares that “Uber has filled a void for me, I go out and meet diverse people, help them go where they need to get to, and have a great time”. As hungry readers of Back Seat Review, we are thrilled that Bob has filled a void of crowdsourced, accurate restaurant reviews from Chicagoans.

Looking for a restaurant recommendation? See where other riders love to eat at Back Seat Review.


Want to make money to help fund your small business? Sign up to drive!

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